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まえに / うしろに

まえに / うしろに

まえに / うしろに Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Conjunction

Essential Meaning: Before X / In front of X

Construction: 

  • Verb informal nonpast + まえ
    • E.g. はなまえ [Before speaking]
    • E.g. べるまえ [Before eating]
  • Noun + のまえ
    • E.g. あさごはんのまえ [Before breakfast]

Notes:

  • まえに basically means “Before X” or “In front of X“. It expresses that something occurs before something else either spatially or temporally. It can be used in three ways:
    • (1) With a location noun:
      • With a location noun, Xのまえに simply conveys the idea that some noun is physically in front of another noun.
        • E.g. えきまえにタバコやがある。[In front of the station there is a tobacco shop.] In this case, the station is the location noun and the tobacco shop is the thing that is physically in front of it.
    • (2) With a noun that indicates an action or event:
      • With a noun that indicates an event or situation (e.g. breakfast, birthday party, etc.), Xのまえに conveys the idea that some action or situation occurs prior to that event.
        • E.g. 旅行りょこうまえ風邪かぜいた。[Before traveling, I caught a cold.] In this case, traveling is the event and catching is a cold is the situation that occurs prior to that event.
    • (3) With a verb:
      • With a verb, Xまえに indicates that some action or situation occurs prior to another action or situation. The verb that accompanies まえに is always nonpast, even if the main verb is in the past tense.
        • E.g. ジャクソンさんは日本にほんまえ日本語にほんご勉強べんきょうした。[Before Jackson went to Japan, he studied Japanese.] In this case, going to Japan is the situation, and studying Japanese is the action that occurs prior to that.
  • With verbs, まえに implies that the speaker knows precisely when something happened or when something will happen. If instead the speaker knows that something is going to happen but doesn’t know exactly when it’s going to happen, うちに is the appropriate conjunction.
    • E.g. あめらないうちにかえりましょう。[Let’s go home before it rains.] This sentence implies that the speaker knows it will rain, but doesn’t know exactly when.
    • E.g. わすれないうちにっておこう。[I’ll say it before I forget it.] This sentence implies that the speaker knows that he or she will forget, but doesn’t know when.
  • The opposite of まえに is うしろに [Behind X] in a spatial sense, and あとで [After X] in a temporal sense.
    • E.g. えきうしろにタバコやがある。[Behind the station there is a tobacco shop.]
    • E.g. 旅行りょこうのあとで風邪かぜいた。[After traveling, I caught a cold.]

Example Sentences:

日本人にほんじんはごはんべるまえに「いただきます」とう。[Japanese people say “Itadakimasu” before eating.]

テイラーさんは日本にほんまえにハワイによりました。[Tara stopped in Hawaii before visiting Japan.]

わたし試験しけんまえ映画えいがった。[I went to see a movie before the exam.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:30, listen for this line: きみまえひろがるのはNew World, きらきらFuture [The thing that is spread out in front of you is a new world, a bright future]
Listen to this line at 2:32: いますぐしたにジャージを穿いてくれ、目撃もくげきされてしまうまえ [Cover up with a jersey right away before you are seen]

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