What is the exact usage of "Before" and "Previously". For example:

  1. I mentioned this example before.
  2. I mentioned this example previously.

What is the difference in meaning between the previous two examples regarding" before - previously"?

  • 1
    I'm not sure if it's just me, but in this example I consider "previously" to have been longer ago than "before". "Before" sort of sounds as though the example was mentioned a few sentences ago, while "previously" seems to imply that the example was mentioned in a further timeframe, such as two days ago.
    – Dog Lover
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:45
  • @DogLover. Good point! I was thinking of this. And actually this is what drove me to be confused!!
    – goro
    Feb 23, 2016 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


There's no difference between the two sentences, unless you're using "before" as a spatial reference (I'm assuming you're not, as I have only ever heard that construction used in poetry, and OED even lists such a use as "archaic").



  • I mean, obviously the phrase "I appeared before him" appears often enough; before is often used as a spatial preposition. The construction I'm referring to is, for example "the knuckles are behind; the palm is before" (you don't hear "before" being used as a spatial adverb very often). Feb 23, 2016 at 22:45

Previously would typically mean a single instance.

'I did this previously' likely implies that I had done this once in the past.
'I did this before' is less descriptive.

That said, I have heard both use interchangeably.

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