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  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #21

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    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."

    Just as a reminder - the initial question was:
    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Why can't you use before in the below? Is "below" always for figurative places, never for concrete positions?
    ex)There was a large crowd in front of(before) the City Hall.
    In my opinion, we're not supposed to be talking about whether before is ambiguous or not, whether it is archaic or not, whether it's formal or not. There was no such question asked. But since we're actually doing this, it is true that it's archaic, ambiguous, and formal.
    The question posed by the OP was straightforward, and the answer by me was the same. So if someone believes firmly that before cannot be used in that sentence and is not acceptable because before is ambiguous, archaic and formal, go ahead saying so - those reading such discussions will certainly draw a conclusion of their own.

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    #22

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

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post

    Just as a reminder - the initial question was:


    In my opinion, we're not supposed to be talking about whether before is ambiguous or not, whether it is archaic or not, whether it's formal or not. There was no such question asked. But since we're actually doing this, it is true that it's archaic, ambiguous, and formal.
    The question posed by the OP was straightforward, and the answer by me was the same. So if someone believes firmly that before cannot be used in that sentence and is not acceptable because before is ambiguous, archaic and formal, go ahead saying so - those reading such discussions will certainly draw a conclusion of their own.
    I guess you are right to scold me for being thick (especially when seconded by the Very Right bhaisahab) because I don't know what you're driving at. You seem to think that someone can say what we are supposed to be talking about, whoever "we" are. My intention is to give the OP the completest possible picture of the current state of "before" vs. "in front of". If the original question must be cleaved to, it was whether or not it was correct, and if you want my opinion, and birdeen called for opinions, "before" is incorrect for "in front of" in modern literal contexts. May I state the reasons?

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    #23

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

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    In my opinion, we're not supposed to be talking about whether before is ambiguous or not, whether it is archaic or not, whether it's formal or not. There was no such question asked.
    We must warn askers when we're giving them forms that are used only in specific circumstances. It doesn't matter whether the asker asks how the form is used. They don't have to know what to ask. You did that yourself in your post--you said the usage of "before" was formal. And you were right to do so if you had a strong conviction it was indeed formal.

    I believed and still believe this usage shouldn't be called formal but archaic. Again, it's worth mentioning if it really is so. In that case, it wouldn't be good if the OP understood they can or should use "before" instead of "in front of" in a formal letter to their boss.

    You seem to be saying that this discussion shouldn't have taken place (we're not supposed to be talking about...) and I disagree.

  4. engee30's Avatar
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    #24

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    [...] because I don't know what you're driving at.
    This is what I am driving at:
    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    [...] so I do not see the point in saying it is acceptable to people trying to learn conversational English.
    and now this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    [...] "before" is incorrect for "in front of" in modern literal contexts.

  5. engee30's Avatar
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    #25

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

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    You seem to be saying that this discussion shouldn't have taken place (we're not supposed to be talking about...) and I disagree.
    That's not what I meant to achieve through those words of mine, birdeen's call.

    If someone keeps on saying that what is archaic cannot be used, I'm lost for words. End of discussion on my part in this thread.

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    #26

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

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    That's not what I meant to achieve through those words of mine, birdeen's call.
    But that's how I understood you. I would be glad to know what you meant.
    If someone keeps on saying that what is archaic cannot be used, I'm lost for words. End of discussion on my part in this thread.
    It's your right to end your participation any time you want.

    Nobody is saying that what is archaic cannot be used. I'm the last person to say this kind of thing. (I see however that some (two) things I said here could be understood this way. I should have said clearly what I think of this, but I simply didn't notice that possible implication of my words.) Archaisms can be used, but should be used consciously in the right cirumstances. It is important to know archaic from non-archaic.

  7. mayita1usa's Avatar
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    #27

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

    Keannu, are you still there? Did your question get answered?

  8. keannu's Avatar
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    #28

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mayita1usa View Post
    Keannu, are you still there? Did your question get answered?
    There seem to be two oppsite sides for this question making me more confused. So are American teachers saying "before" is mainly for abstract, metaphorical, figurative positions with a few exceptions while "in front of" is concrete, physical position? I can't help but conclude like this.

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    #29

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

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    There seem to be two oppsite sides for this question making me more confused.
    I was afraid of that!

    So are American teachers saying "before" is mainly for abstract, metaphorical, figurative positions with a few exceptions while "in front of" is concrete, physical position?
    No, I don't think that's the main idea. Here is my summary:

    - In front of is a preposition that almost always refers to spatial/physical location.

    - Before has multiple meanings*, including a preposition of spatial/physical location; however, this usage is less common in current American English, particularly spoken English. *Before | Define Before at Dictionary.com

    Thus, your original sentence is technically correct, but might sound a little strange to some modern ears:
    There was a large crowd in front of (before) the City Hall.
    All that being said, to be perfectly honest, I think this sentence would be just fine if you removed "the" and added some more context:
    There was a large crowd before City Hall awating the mayor's announcement.

    This may be formal, but it doesn't sound at all "archaic" to me...!

  10. keannu's Avatar
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    #30

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

    There was a large crowd before City Hall awating the mayor's announcement.
    By this, do you mean before has a physical meaning? I guess according to all the arguments including yours so far, it means one of the followings. Maybe "in front of" only in the sense of figurative symbol of "city hall", that's why you removed "the" to get rid of the nuance of physical location. You didn't specify what it actually means. I guess it's a symbolic connotation. I'm sorry I'm still not hundred percent clear about this.



    *in front of; ahead of; in advance of: his shadow advancing before him; She stood before the window.
    *in the presence or sight of: to appear before an audience.

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