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  1. VIP Member
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    #11

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    I am not a teacher, but I think it is important to give relevant and useful answers to the questioners, as appropriate to their level of English.

    Giving formal and archaic answers to simple queries and insisting that it is "correct" English does not help the basic student. I think of it as a native. If someone asked the average native if "before the building" was correct, they would say "no."

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    #12

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I am not a teacher
    Nor am I; because of this fact, I would have never written what you wrote. That was my point.

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    #13

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    I don't mind giving learners formal forms if they're common enough. I believe however that "before the white villa" wouldn't be used in modern formal English in the sense we're discussing. I believe that even though your example says otherwise. I don't think SoothingDave is unfamiliar with formal English and I understand he doesn't recognize the form as used there today.

    Your example has shaken my confidence in my original statemen. I still think it's mostly or thoroughly true, but I'm not sure anymore. It would be great if other members gave their opinion on this.

  4. engee30's Avatar
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    #14

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I don't mind giving learners formal forms if they're common enough. I believe however that "before the white villa" wouldn't be used in modern formal English in the sense we're discussing. I believe that even though your example says otherwise. I don't think SoothingDave is unfamiliar with formal English and I understand he doesn't recognize the form as used there today.

    Your example has shaken my confidence in my original statemen. I still think it's mostly or thoroughly true, but I'm not sure anymore. It would be great if other members gave their opinion on this.
    birdeen's call, I just hope you don't mind my reminding you of how dictionaries, entries in particular, are positioned in them. Let's take OALD as an example. Whenever you look up a word, once you've got it you have it as an entry (or headword). Words like before, or get, or be may have a lot of sub-entries (that is different definitions) explaining the meaning or meanings of the headword, usually with accompanying examples showing how the headword is used in context. Different senses are usually separated by numbers or letters and are arranged according to their frequency of use in the language, with the main or most common meaning given first. It so happens that before in OALD is listed as second (out of 6) in the sense I wrote about in my very first post in this thread; surprise, surprise - the sense SoothingDave wrote about is listed as fifth. So I just don't get it how you could write that something is unacceptable, whereas it is, in fact, supported by a reliable source.

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    #15

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    Engee,
    These are three possible ways in which the meanings of polysemous words can be arranged in a dictionary:

    (1) According to the historical development of the meaning, i.e. historical order. Here the meanings are arranged in a chronological order. The etymological meaning is given first and other meanings in order of their appearance in the language. This order is generally, but not exclusively, found in historical dictionaries.

    (2) According to the frequency of the meaning i.e. the most frequent meaning being given first followed by the less frequent meanings. This order is most widely followed and is termed the empirical or actual order.

    (3) According to the logical connection of the words i.e. the logical order. Here the meanings are arranged according to their logical connections. This order may or may not correspond to the historical order.
    (INTRODUCTION TO LEXICOGRAPHY)

    We're going off topic though. I know that dictionaries give this meaning.

    I have nothing to add now. I'll just wait to see if anybody else replies to this thread.

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    #16

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    I am a teacher of English, but EFL; and not a native speaker.

    However, I think that if you teach EFL, it is better to teach students to use "before" while referring to time and "in front of" while referring to a position. Otherwise they might be confused in which cases both prepositions can be used; and in which ones not. Of course, you can tell them that they may see and hear "before" used in spacious references as well, but I would not encourage them to use it themselves.

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    #17

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    It really depends on the level of the student, any student reading English literature will certainly come across "before" used to mean "in front of". As all levels of student use this site, I think it is good to impart any knowledge we have about the language.

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    #18

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    It really depends on the level of the student, any student reading English literature will certainly come across "before" used to mean "in front of". As all levels of student use this site, I think it is good to impart any knowledge we have about the language.
    Bhaisahab, would you say this sense of "before" is in current use?

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    #19

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Bhaisahab, would you say this sense of "before" is in current use?
    Not current popular use, no. Although, as I said, you will find it in literature.

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    #20

    Re: There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall?

    I am not a teacher.

    A man and his wife are drinking at a bar. The drunk next to them cuts loose a fart. Outraged, the man says to the drunk, "How dare you fart before my wife?" The drunk replies, "Shorry, buddy---*hic*---I didn't know it wazh her turn."

    I heard this joke many moon ago---more moons than are in the Seoul phone book if you must know---and it relied on an unlikely utterance by the man even then. But we understood it. "Before" meaning "in front of" is certainly plain English, but it is only used that way today as a conscious archaism, no matter what any dictionary says.

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