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  1. mayita1usa's Avatar
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    #31

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

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    There was a large crowd before City Hall awaiting the mayor's announcement.
    By this, do you mean before has a physical meaning?
    Yes!

    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.
    No! I'm sorry I wasn't clear.

    1 - I removed "the" because it's not correct with "before" or "in front of". City Hall - with capital letters - is the name of the building, and you don't need "the". (That's a topic for a different thread!)

    2 - I added the additional context (awaiting the mayor's announcement) because it takes the emphasis away from "before", and makes it sound a little more natural. Again, it has nothing to do with the use of "before"; I thought it might help other readers get my point.

    My final word: I consider "before" to be an appropriate synonym for "in front of" (a preposition of spatial/physical location) in these sentences.
    - There was a large crowd before City Hall.
    - There was a large crowd before the city hall.

    Sorry if others still disagree!

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    #32

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

    Thanks, mayita, for both bringing us back to topic and for your opinion. I was almost sure every native speaker would see it as archaic.

  3. mayita1usa's Avatar
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    #33

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

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Thanks, mayita, for both bringing us back to topic and for your opinion. I was almost sure every native speaker would see it as archaic.
    You're welcome (and I hope we finally helped Keannu)!
    Formal? Yes.
    Archaic? No, no yet!

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    #34

    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.
    That is my point - I haven't written about not to tell them... But still, it is literature etc., so there's no point encouraging students to use it themselves.

  5. mayita1usa's Avatar
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    #35

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

    Quote Originally Posted by la_patata View Post
    That is my point - I haven't written about not to tell them... But still, it is literature etc., so there's no point encouraging students to use it themselves.
    I couldn't disagree more... I think students should be encouraged to use as much of the language as they are able to master! Who are we to decide what level of language they use? It is up to us teachers to help them reach their potential, not limit it!

    Also, at the risk of repeating myself yet again, "before" as a preposition of place is NOT just used in "literature"! Here is just one example I found after a 5-second Google search:
    "And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States." [Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's Announcement Speech, Saturday, February 10, 2007. The Washington Post.]
    Could Obama have said "I stand in front of you today"? Yes.
    Is the connotation slightly different? Yes.

    "Before", in my opinion, adds a quality of "in body and spirit", rather than just the physical.
    Maybe this is what Keannu was trying to point out or ask in the first place!

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    #36

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

    But, if I may, this one refers to standing in front a group of people. I think we were discussing "before" used with other nouns. We all agree, I think, that "before a judge" or "before you" is still used in appropriate contexts. Keannu asked recently about "before a judge" and no one corrected my answer that it's perfectly normal. But several people didn't like it in "before a villa".

    I'm not sure now we have all been discussing the same thing. Do you consider "before a villa" no less modern than "before you", mayita?

    I'm sorry if I'm being tedious.

    PS: I just found something that seems to support my view.

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    #37

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

    Are you kidding me? Is my pickup truck parked before my house? Is there a line of customers before the store?

    If I used sentences like that, any native English speaker would look at me like I just stepped out of a flying saucer. Yes, we stand before a judge, and Obama's speech sounded natural, but freely substituting before for in front of in other usages is usually non-idiomatic.

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    #38

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

    Mykwyner, I also don't think "before" can be freely substituted for "in front of" (without sounding odd and leading to misunderstandings). The problem is to specify when it can be done, that is in what contexts, with what kinds of nouns. They haven't been defined clearly in this thread yet; only some examples have been given.

    PS: I just thought that actually some clear definitions had been given, and what I'd just written could have sounded belittling. I'm sorry about it. It's just that I'm still unsure about this.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 18-Feb-2011 at 01:55. Reason: PS

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    #39

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

    38 posts and still people are unhappy.

    Here is my BrE contribution, for what it's worth - if anything.

    I would not go as far as labelling 'before' archaic, but it is pretty formal, In normal conversation it wold be very unusual with buildings, and sometimes wrong/confusing - see SoothingDave's post #7.

    I think part of the problem started with engee's first response, "Such use is considered formal by some. And of course it's correct." In the original sentence, There was a large crowd before/in front of the City Hall, 'before' is not really formal; it is unnatural; in that particular sentence I would go so far as to say it is not 'correct'.

    Yes, if we are formal, we stand before a judge, a Senate committee, an audience, a congregation, etc, but we do NOT park our car before our house, and crowds do not normally stand before City Hall.

    Dictionaries, rightly, list this meanng of 'before' because, in the past, it was used with places meaning 'in front of'; indeed it may well still be used in this way by some writers. Advanced students should certainly be made aware of this.

    However, to suggest to most learners that 'before' is correct or natural in the original sentence is unhelpful.

    if you look back through the thread, you will not find one native speaker who feels that it is natural in normal modern English.

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    #40

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

    I'm happy now, because your post, 5jj, expresses my opinion too, and better than I managed to do. I only want to say why I think using "before" with buildings is not only unnatural but also archaic. I simply found examples of such usage in older texts.

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