The word before has always seemed somewhat awkward to me in phases like:

(1) He spoke before the audience... (2) She presented her report before the Board of the Company...

(3) The Company positions itself as a highly-reputed organization .... before (?) ... the civil society.

What would be the best ways to avoid the word "before" especially in phrase (3), or is "before" just fine?

  • The nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence includes Wasn't that a dainty dish \ To set before the king. But you're right to feel such usages are a bit "awkward" today, when we'd be much more likely to put in front of the king. – FumbleFingers Mar 4 '15 at 21:19
  • @FumbleFingers But before is a nice word to have in reserve if one wants to create something specially expressive. 'The child, with no rehearsal, took the stage with confidence, and sang before the entire audience.' – WS2 Mar 4 '15 at 21:40
  • @WS2: Indeed. It's a bit more formal, and thus lends a touch of "gravitas" to the performance - besides "bigging it up" so we know to be even more cognisant of what a plucky child s/he is. – FumbleFingers Mar 4 '15 at 21:54

If you want to avoid the usage of before, the first two are fine places to use to.

He spoke to the audience.
She presented her report to the Board of the Company.

This conveys the target and not just that the speaker is standing in front of an audience and speaking.

I am inferring some intention with this one here, but instead of using the word before, you could replace it with in the eyes of. It avoids the negative subtext that a company values itself over the civil society.

The Company positions itself as a highly-reputed organization in the eyes of the civil society.

  • That's exactly how I put a Russian phrase in English, you just confirmed my idea, thank you. – Eugene Kartoyev Mar 4 '15 at 21:11

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