How to Use ‘Before’ and ‘After’ in Spanish
The words “after” and “before” are pretty straightforward to use in English. In Spanish however, they translate into various expressions with different grammar structures.
Read this article to learn all about “after” and “before” in Spanish once and for all. I provide you with easy-to-remember formulas and many examples. I also give you a bunch of useful synonyms to throw into casual conversation.
At the end, you’ll be able to check yourself by taking a multiple-choice quiz.
Are you ready? Let’s tackle another grammar topic on your way to Spanish fluency!
Uses of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ in Spanish
To correctly use “after” and “before” in Spanish, you’ll need to see which part of the sentence they connect with. According to this you’ll translate them as an adverb, preposition, or conjunction.
If “after” in Spanish and “before” in Spanish affect the meaning of the entire sentence or of a verb, they will function as an adverb. If they’re followed by an infinitive or noun, they function as prepositions.
They also work as conjunctions that join two events. In this case, you have to use either the indicative or the subjunctive mood after them.
Let’s quickly remind the definitions of these three parts of speech before we go into details:
These describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.
Juan corre rápido.
Juan runs fast.
Rápido is an adverb, as it describes the way Juan runs.
Prepositions explain the relationships between nouns and other words. Common prepositions include
- en – in
- por – by, because of
- debajo – below
- con – with
Como pan con mantequilla.
I eat bread with butter.
Conjunctions connect nouns, verbs, phrases, and sentences. Some common conjunctions are:
- y – and
- o – or
- pero – but
Me gustan los perros y gatos.
I like cats and dogs.
Read more about adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions: Spanish Grammar for Beginners: The 9 Parts of Speech
‘Before’ in Spanish
We use different expressions to say “before” in Spanish. It all depends on what you want to say and what “before” refers to.
We can translate “before” as:
- antes – adverb
- antes de – prepositions
- antes de que – conjunction
If you use “before” in Spanish and affect the verb or the whole sentence, you translate it into antes. In most cases, if you can substitute “before” with “beforehand” or “earlier” in English, you will have to use antes in Spanish.
The formula is simple:
Antes + phrase // phrase + antes
Antes éramos más felices.
We were happier before.
Ya te lo había dicho antes.
I told you this before.
Antes había más niños que no iban a la escuela.
Before, there used to be more children who didn’t go to school.
Antes de (preposition)
Antes de is a two-word preposition. It will be followed by a noun or an infinitive that works as a noun.
Antes de + noun / infinitive
Deberías estudiar antes del examen.
You should study before the exam.
Péinate antes de salir.
Comb your hair before you leave.
Antes de los aviones, la gente viajaba en barcos y trenes.
Before airplanes, people traveled by boats and trains.
Antes de que (conjunction)
Antes de que is a subordinating conjunction that connects two events. You need to use a phrase in the subjunctive mood after it.
antes de que + the subjunctive mood
Vamos a comer antes de que vengan ellos.
Let’s eat before they come.
Lo hicimos antes de que te despertaras.
We made it before you woke up.
Quiero que lo termines antes de que haga la comida.
I want you to finish it before I make lunch.
Ante vs antes (conjunction)
Be sure not to confuse antes with ante. Ante is a preposition for spatial rather than temporal references. It means in front of, in the presence of, or facing somebody. In this sense, it translates as “before.”
Siempre me sonrojo ante ti.
I always blush in front of you.
Tendrás que responder ante el juez.
You will have to answer before the judge.
‘Before’ in Spanish – Other Expressions
Other expressions are synonymous with antes. They are not perfect synonyms but quite often express the same idea. For example:
- hace tiempo
Antiguamente había menos contaminación.
Before, there was less pollution.
Anteriormente trabajé en otra empresa.
Before, I used to work for another company.
Hace tiempo a mi hijo no le gustaban los videojuegos.
Before (a long time ago), my son didn’t like video games.
Felipe llegó primero.
Felipe got there first (earlier).
‘After’ in Spanish
Just as with “before,” “after” in Spanish translates into various expressions and functions differently in a sentence.
“After” translates as:
- después (adverb)
- después de (preposition)
- después de que (conjunction)
If “after” in Spanish refers to the whole sentence or the verb, you translate it to después. The English synonym is “afterward,” “later,” or “after.”
This is the formula:
Después + verb // verb + después
Lo haré después.
I’ll do it later / afterward.
Después iré a visitar a mi tía.
Afterward / later I will go to visit my aunt.
Después de (preposition)
If you join después with de, it will work as a preposition meaning “after.” After this construction, use a noun, pronoun, or an infinitive acting as a noun.
después de + noun / pronoun / infinitive
Llegué después de la película.
I arrived after the film.
Después de él, ya es tu turno.
After him, it’s your turn.
Después de comer saldremos a jugar.
After lunch, we will go out to play.
Después de que (conjunction)
Después de que is a subordinating conjunction that connects two events. You need to use a phrase in the indicative or the subjunctive mood after it.
después de que + the subjunctive mood / the indicative mood
Después de que leí el libro, busqué la película.
After I read the book, I looked up the movie.
Descansaré después de que terminemos de trabajar.
I will rest after we finish working.
Tras also means “after” in Spanish, and we use it with both temporal and spatial meanings.
In a temporal sense, it means a sequence. In a spatial sense, it means “behind.”
Año tras año, repruebo el mismo examen.
Year after year, I fail the same exam.
Ana corrió tras su perro.
Ana ran after her dog.
‘After’ in Spanish – Other Expressions
Other expressions for “after” in Spanish exist. For example, to say “right after,” you might say en seguida. Other terms include:
- en seguida
- más tarde
- a continuación
A continuación hablaremos de nuestros países.
Next / Later, we will talk about our countries.
Luego te veo.
I’ll see you later.
Lo haré en seguida después de comer.
I’ll do it right after lunch.
Lo veré posteriormente.
I’ll see you later.
Lo quiero hacer más tarde.
I want to do it afterward.
‘After’ and ‘Before’ in Spanish – Quiz
Check and see how much you’ve learned about “after” and “before” in Spanish. Let’s see. Remember, there is only one correct answer.
1. _______ comía más chocolate. (BEFORE)
2. _______ las vacaciones, quiere terminar el trabajo. (BEFORE)
3. _______ verte, necesito dormir. (BEFORE)
4. _______ te vayas, lava los platos. (BEFORE)
5. Yo respondo _______ la ley. (BEFORE)
6. Comeremos _______. (AFTER)
7. _______ bailar, iremos a dormir.(AFTER)
8. _______ la clase, nos toca el descanso.(AFTER)
9. _______ te vi, quedé enamorado.(AFTER)
10. Los perros corrieron _______ el gato.(AFTER)
It’s Your Turn
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