Vor oder Bevor: Difference and Similarity

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The temporal conjunction and preposition both mean “before” in English. As “before”, vor forms a kind of “unfinished subordinate clause” which has no action or verb while before forms a subordinate clause which places the verb at the end of the sentence.

Content in this post
1. Introduction
2. When is vor Akkusativ or Dativ?
3. What is the meaning of vor?
4. How is bevor different from vor.
Table of content for vor oder bevor

Bevor is a subordinate conjunction while vor is a two-case preposition that conditions the grammatical case (nouns or pronouns) after them to be either accusative or dative depending on whether there is the intent of an active motion (from point A to point B) or not by the speaker. When motion is intended, the noun or pronoun directly after it must then be accusative but when motion is not intended, they become dative.

Note that this motion is different from that which is considered in verbs when making the perfect tense. While that of perfect tense is about moving from point A to point B, this is solely about the intention of the speaker in the sentence.

When Is Vor Akkusativ or Dativ?

The determination of motion with vor is best with verbs (e.g laufen, gehen, springen etc.) that naturally involve motion. This is because one can easily assume the dative case when vor is used with non-motion verbs (e.g stehen). For example;

  1. Maria steht vor der Tür (Dative).— Mary is standing in front of the door.
  2. Maria springt vor der Tür.— Mary is jumping in front of the door.
  3. Maria springt vor die Tür.— Mary is jumping in front of the door.

In the sentences above, example 1 is clearly with a motionless verb. Examples 2 and 3 are with motion verbs but while example 2 shows that Maria is in front of the door jumping in one spot (let’s call it point B), example 3 outrightly shows that Maria is jumping from any other spot that isn’t front of the door (point A) towards the front of the door (point B).

What Is The Meaning Of Vor?

Under different circumstances, there are several translations for vor in German ranging from “in front of”, “ago” and “before”. It only means “in front of” when used as two-case preposition and “ago” when used as Zeitangabe or Temporal adverb in connection with the past. As “before”, vor forms a kind of comparison phrase just like wie which has no action or verb. For example;

Meaning of vorGermanEnglish Translation
in front ofIch laufe vor dem/das Haus.I am walking in front of the house.
agoIch bin vor drei Jahren vor dem/das Haus gelaufen.
Ich habe vor zwei Tagen Reis gegessen.
I walked in front of the house 3 years ago.
I ate rice two days ago.
beforeich werde ankommen vor der Frau.i will arrive before the woman.
Sentences showing different meanings of vor

How is BEVOR different from VOR?

While vor can be a preposition, bevor is not. It is rather a temporal subordinate conjunction. It equally translates in English as “before”. Bevor is different from vor in that it is not a preposition and hence has no grammatical implication on the noun or pronoun after them. It also forms a “finished” clause which has a conjugated verb. This conjugated verb is always at the end of the sentence. Also, the subordinate clause formed with bevor is always separated from the main clause with a comma unlike that of vor. See the comparison below…

Ich dusche mich immer, bevor ich zu schlafen gehe.
(I always shower before I go to sleep)
Ich dusche mich immer vor Schlafen.
(I always shower before sleeping)
Ich werde ankommen, bevor die Frau weggeht.
(I will arrive before the woman goest away)
Ich werde vor der Frau ankommen
(I will arrive before the woman)
Comparison sentences of bevor and vor

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