Is the following sentence correct:

I watched the sequel before the original movie.

It sounds strange to me—something like "earlier than the original" or "before I watched the original movie" sounds better, but I'm looking for a definitive rule for the usage of "before".

Can "before" be used together with an object?

  • Do you mean "Is 'before' a preposition?" ?
    – Mitch
    Feb 11 '13 at 22:02

Yes. "Before" serves as a correlation/correlative conjunction and functions like a coordinating conjunction in this case, which would allow you to omit repeating the SV.

  • What's an SV, as in ". . .repeating the SV"? Feb 12 '13 at 1:10
  • 1
    SV means "Subject + Verb" here
    – The Frog
    Feb 12 '13 at 8:49

Sounds fine to me.

Before can be a preposition, a conjunction or an adverb.

Before watching makes it a clearer case for being an adverb, whereas before the original makes it a clearer case for being a preposition. Regardless of the part of speech, it's correct.

The Oxford Learner's Dictionary has some pretty good examples, some of which are pretty similar under the preposition entry, such as "He arrived before me," where an object pronoun comes into play even though you could just as easily say "He arrived before I did."

If you're set on finding an alternative way to express it, try something more concise like "I watched the sequel first."

  • 1
    It's all of the above. In English most words swing several ways. In this case, the original sentence is I watched the sequel before I watched the original movie, and Conjunction Reduction removes the repeated subject and verb of the second clause, leaving only the different object the original movie. Feb 11 '13 at 22:53

Before can also mean in front of as in: The accused appeared before the judge.

  • That's a preposition, which is not the meaning of "before" in OP.
    – livresque
    Feb 12 '13 at 13:24
  • Yes, fair enough.
    – The Frog
    Feb 13 '13 at 16:50

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