After, Ago, Before, & In to Talk About Time – English Vocabulary Lesson

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After work last night I went to a little Chinese restaurant. I’ve gone there a few times before. Its pretty good and the prices are reasonable. I often try to find different restaurants because I often have out of town guests and I always want to take them somewhere good but not necessarily touristy. In fact, in three weeks another friend is coming to New York, so I need to start planning. He came here two years ago, so I want to take him somewhere new this time.

Today I want to talk about how we use after, ago, before, & in to talk about time. Have a look at the paragraph above and then check the lesson:

We use ago to talk about a point in past time which is related to now:

  • Tom came here two years ago. It means, two years before now.
  • Five years ago, I went to Mexico City.
  • I saw Brad a week ago in a deli.

We use before to talk about a point in past or future time which is related to another point in time, but not now. We often use before that, to indicate the time we are referring to. Before does not relate to now:

  • Tom came here two years ago. Before that, he had never been to the USA
  • In June I am going to Cancun. Before I go I need to renew my passport
  • I saw Brad a week ago in a deli. Before that, I saw him in a supermarket in New Jersey.

We use in to talk about a point in future time which is related to now:

  • I’ll be finished with work in an hour. It means an hour from now.
  • In three weeks another friend is coming to New York.
  • I’m going to Cancun in two months.

Finally we use after to talk about a point in past or future time which is related to another point in time, but not now. We often use after that, to indicate the time we are referring to. After does not relate to now:

  • I saw Brad a week ago in a deli. After that, we went to a café and had coffee.
  • In June I am going to Cancun. After I come back I will start planning my next trip.
  • After I finish work I’m going to go straight home.

If you know anyone who has trouble with this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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