Difference Between Ago and Before

Ago vs Before
 

Ago and before is a pair of words that is misused very much by people around the world, mostly by students of English language. There are a lot of similarities in ago and before with their meanings too being similar. However, their usage is different, and this is why students remain confused and use them interchangeably. It has to be understood that before and ago are different and have to be used according to a particular context and not on the whim of the speaker or writer. This article attempts to bring out the differences between ago and before.

Ago

Ago is a word used to describe the time length since something happened. You can say that something happened 20 years ago, 20 days ago, or even 20 minutes ago. Take a look at the following examples to understand its usage.

• John moved to France 20 years ago.

• I suffered from headache 20 days ago.

• He was here 20 minutes ago.

• His mother retired 5 years ago.

It becomes clear that ago is a word that is used to indicate something that happened at a particular point of time in the past. Ago indicates a past event.

Before

Before is also a word used to indicate something that took place in the past but there is no particular times frame that before talks about. For example, if you have visited a place before, you are not required to specify the date or time when you were there.

There is no time frame mentioned when before is used in a sentence. If you say that I reached the office 5 minutes before my boss, there is still no mention of the time and all it means is that you were there in the office 5 minutes before your boss made an entry into the office. Take a look at the following examples to understand the meaning of before.

• I have visited this place before.

• Can you tell me what happened in the office before I came?

What is the difference between Ago and Before?

• Ago is used when we know when the event took place in the past.

• Before is used when we are not certain about the time when the event took place in the past.

• There is always an expression of time when ago is used.

• So you say I met the girl before, but you say I met the girl three years ago.

• My father was born 67 years ago, but you say that My father was born before independence.