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Thread: when/before

  1. #1
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default when/before

    Before I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.
    When I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.


    The book I have says the first one with 'before' is fine but the second one with 'when' is not because leaning about its history is something you do beforehand. Well, that makes logical sense, but I wonder if you native speakers are that strict.

    Do you native speakers think the second one sounds wrong?

    Plus, the book goes on to say this works fine.

    When I visit a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.

    If so, why does the last one work whereas the second one doesn't? Or do you native speakers think that like the second one the last one doesn't sound right? Or all of them sound OK to your native ear?

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: when/before

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka View Post
    Before I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.
    When I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.


    The book I have says the first one with 'before' is fine but the second one with 'when' is not because leaning about its history is something you do beforehand. Well, that makes logical sense, but I wonder if you native speakers are that strict.

    Do you native speakers think the second one sounds wrong?

    Plus, the book goes on to say this works fine.

    When I visit a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.

    If so, why does the last one work whereas the second one doesn't? Or do you native speakers think that like the second one the last one doesn't sound right? Or all of them sound OK to your native ear?
    They are all acceptable IMO.

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: when/before

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka View Post
    Before I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.
    When I go to a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.

    The book I have says the first one with 'before' is fine but the second one with 'when' is not because leaning about its history is something you do beforehand. Well, that makes logical sense, but I wonder if you native speakers are that strict.
    No, they are both OK, (using "never"). The versions with "always" are both wrong.

    Do you native speakers think the second one sounds wrong?
    No - assuming you choose "never".

    Plus, the book goes on to say this works fine.

    When I visit a foreign country, I always/never fail to learn a little about its history because I believe that helps me understand the country better.

    If so, why does the last one work whereas the second one doesn't? Or do you native speakers think that like the second one the last one doesn't sound right? Or all of them sound OK to your native ear?
    I don't understand why you're giving a sentence with "always/never" in it, when that isn't the point you're asking about. But I'll assume you know (at least by now) that you have to choose "never", regardless of your primary concerns.
    The sentences beginning with either "Before" or "When" are both acceptable. Whether you use "visit" or "go to" doesn't make a difference.

  4. #4
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: when/before

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I don't understand why you're giving a sentence with "always/never"
    No, Raymott. I meant to say 'always' or 'never fail to'.

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: when/before

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka View Post
    No, Raymott. I meant to say 'always' or 'never fail to'.
    I see. Thanks for pointing that out.
    There is a problem in our tradition of using a forward slash like that insofar as we can never tell where the second element ends = or indeed, where the first starts. It's a pity that it has developed that way.

    Perhaps "I [always] / [never fail to] learn a little about its history" is a solution. In fact, I am going to use it in future where there is a potential ambiguity.

  6. #6
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: when/before

    OK. Anyway, in terms of 'when/before', in such cases, you native speakers are not that strict. Good.

    Thank you both!

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