Beginner 2 > Lesson 25
Lesson 25. “Before” (전에, -기 전에)
In this lesson, we will learn about the word 전 and how to use it with nouns and verbs.
First of all, 전 (前) means «front» referring to a place, and it also means «before» referring to time. In this lesson, you will learn 전 when talking about time.
Since it indicates time, it is mostly followed by “에,” the time marking particle, like “noun 전에 (before noun.)”
Some other particles that mark the time like 부터(from), 까지(to) can also be used, like “noun 전부터 (since before noun)” and “noun 전까지(till before noun).”
1. Noun + 전에 : before Noun
출근 전에 : before going to work > 저는 출근 전에 화장을 해요. I put on make up before going to work.
점심 전까지 : till before lunch > 점심 전까지 끝내주세요. Please finish it (till) before lunch.
오후 1시 전에 : before 1pm > 오후 1시 전에 택배를 받았어요. I received the package before 1pm.
주말 전부터: from before weekend > 주말 전부터 기대됐어요. I was looking forward to it even before the weekend.
식사 전에 : before eating > 식사 전에 꼭 손을 씻으세요. Make sure to wash your hands before eating.
2. Time Duration + 전에 : [time duration] ago
When you combine the duration of time with 전, it means “(time) ago”.
[Time] + 전에 = [Time] ago
저는 오 분전에 선생님을 만났어요. – I met my teacher 5 minutes ago.
일 년 전에 한국에 갔어요. – I went to Korea a year ago.
이 영화를 친구랑 두 달 전에 이미 봤어요. – I already watched this movie two months ago with my friend.
한국어를 오 년 전에 공부하기 시작했어요. – I started studying Korean 5 years ago.
저는 헬스장에 삼 주 전에 갔어요. – I went to a gym 3 weeks ago.
Now let’s look at how 전 can be used with verbs.
3. Verb-기 전에
Before studying this grammar construction, let me remind you of the verb’s nominalization in Korean.
Nominalization is a grammatical action that allows you to change a verb into a noun. In English, you use “Verb-ing” construction to do so.
먹다 (to eat) > 먹기 / 먹는 것 (eating)
말하다 (to speak) > 말하기 / 말하는 것 (speaking)
운동하다 (to exercise) > 운동하기 / 운동하는 것 (exercising)
*We learned this in one of the previous lessons “Changing Verb into Noun (nominalization, verb-기, verb-는 것)“
Now you’ll notice that a verb is nominalized by using Verb-기 in “Verb-기 전에” construction. So it literally means, “Before Verb-ing.”
Let’s look at some examples:
저는 학교에 가기 전에 맛있는 아침을 먹었어요. – Before going to school, I had a delicious breakfast.
친구에게 전화하기 전에 숙제를 했어요. – I did the homework before calling my friend.
저는 영화를 보기 전에 엄마를 도와드려야 돼요. – I should help my mom before watching a movie.
제가 집에 오기 전에 엄마는 저녁을 준비할 거예요. – My mom will prepare dinner before I come home.
밖에 나가기 전에 우산을 가져가! – Take an umbrella before you go outside.
한국에 가기 전에 한국어를 공부했어요. – I studied Korean before going there.
한국에 가기 전에 한국어를 공부할 거에요. – I will study Korean before going there.
자기 전에 영화를 볼래요? – Shall we watch a movie before going to bed?
요리하기 전에 손을 씻어야 돼요. – You should wash your hands before cooking.
영화 보기 전에 팝콘 사자! – Let’s buy popcorn before watching the movie!
As you can see, the sentence that follows after -기 전에 can be in present tense, past tense, future tense or some other constructions like Verb-아/어야 되다(have to), Verb-ㄹ/을래? (invitation), imperative sentence etc. There is no limitation as to which type of sentence cannot come afterwards.