“vor” or “bevor” and more – A big Exercise

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German intensive summer boot camp.
Yeah, I know. You didn’t want this. You just wanted to relax, read a bit about a word, some examples, some history, some dumb jokes. But nope. Today it’s your turn.
So put on your sweatpants and get ready for a hefty work out about

Time Words

Or to be a little more specific

bevor or vor  and other tricky words

Mixing up vor and bevor and also davor is a really common mistake; for beginners as well as advanced learners. And it’s the same story for nach, danach and nachdem.
Today, we’ll train exactly that… when to use which.

We’ve talked about this stuff in details in the mini series on time in German, particularly part 1, 5 and 6.
If you want to check those out, you can find them here on the course page.

But let’s go over it together real quick and see why we make mistakes and what we need to know to not make them anymore.

The theory

You can skip right to the exercise, if you’re confident.  The purpose of the words I mentioned is to order things in time. We have two actions, A and B, and they don’t happen at the same time. Or in other words, one happens earlier than the other.
And there are two perspectives we can look at this:

  1. before B.
  2. B after A.

The order of events is the same in both sentences. A is the earlier event. But we’re using different points of reference to express that.
Now, we have two points of view and two words. Just perfect, right? I’m sure you agree.
But German doesn’t. German is like
“I soooo need more words for this.”
Of course, you’re wondering why? And the reason is grammatical function.
There’s actually three ways to phrase a perspective.

  1. I brush my teeth after I eat dinner.
  2. I brush my teeth after dinner.
  3. I eat dinner. I’ll brush my teeth after. 

And the colors kind of point toward the crucial differences.
In example number one, after connects a sentence, a verb. In sentence two, it connects an entity, a thing (dinner). And in sentence three, it connects nothing, but instead it is a stand-alone reference.
These are three absolutely distinct grammatical functions. The first one is a (subordinating) conjunction, the second one is a preposition and the last one is a temporal adverb.
If those jargon terms don’t tell you much, don’t worry. What matters is that you understand that you’re looking at distinct functions.
Because German, pedantic as it is, wants a distinct word for each function. That’s why we have to deal with six words in total

bevor and nachdem                    : connect a verbs/sentences
vor     and nach                           : connect a nouns
davor/vorher and danach    :  a stand-alone reference

Now, if you’re not a you’re a real grammar nerd or you have a similar distinction in your language, then this distinction doesn’t come naturally to you at all.
And that’s exactly why we’re doing this exercise to you. The goal is not that you won’t make mistakes anymore, after. The main goal is to sensitize you for the difference. Raising awareness and understanding, if you will. Because once you really understand the distinction, you will start to “feel” it, develop an intuition for it.
Some of the examples are REALLY similar so the differences are really obvious.

Cool. So let’s paraphrase the distinctions again:

If before or after refer to something happening, then you need bevor or nachdem.

  • before I go to bed
  • after I wash my hands

If they refer to a noun, then you need vor or nach

  • before dinner
  • after class

And if before or after stand alone and refer to a prior sentence, or if they are combined with it/that, then use davor/vorher or danach.

  • I’ll come. But before (that), I want to sleep.
  • I eat. I’ll sleep after (that).

A special case are -ing forms in English, the so called gerunds. They tend to be translated to a normal sentence in German, but if they’re really just the -ing-form you can use a noun.

  • Before eating I wash my hands.
  • Vor dem Essen wasche ich mir die Hände.
  • Before eating my pizza, I wash my hands.
  • Bevor ich meine Pizza esse, wasche ich…
  • Vor dem Essen meiner Pizza…. grammatically correct, but no one talks that way.

Oh, and one quick word about vorher and davor which both mean before (that) and they’re pretty similar. Davor is more “pointy” and the real before that while vorher leans toward first. Like… I’m gonna do B but first I want to do A. If you mix these two up, it’s not a big deal.

Cool.
And now I think we’re ready to go :)

The exercise

I’ll give you a sentence in English with before or after (or both) in it.
Option one for you is to translate them to German.
You can use the text field for your version, but it doesn’t check what you enter :). It’s just so you can compare.
The solution is in the audio and you can also see it by clicking the circle O.

If translating them is too much, then just click the “?” icon and you’ll see the German version with a gap, so you just have to pick the right word.
Remember:

  • bevor and nachdem are used for verbs
  • vor and nach are for nouns
  • davor/vorher and danach are used as a stand-alone

Viel Erfolg :)!!!

***

1.
Before Maria meditates she does yoga.
____ Maria meditiert, macht sie Yoga.
Bevor Maria meditiert, macht sie Yoga.

2.
Before meditating/the meditation, Maria turns off her phone.
____ dem Meditieren macht Maria ihr Handy aus.
Vor dem Meditieren macht Maria ihr Handy aus.

3.
I want to drink an espresso in peace before I start working.
Ich will in Ruhe einen Espresso trinken, ____ ich anfange zu arbeiten.
Ich will in Ruhe einen Espresso trinken, bevor ich anfange zu arbeiten.

4.
“I actually wanted to pay by card.”
“You have to say that before (right away).”
“Ich wollte eigentlich mit Karte zahlen.”
“Das musst du ____ sagen.”
“Ich wollte eigentlich mit Karte zahlen.”
“Das musst du vorher sagen.”

5.
Before Thomas came, the party was really cool.
____ Thomas gekommen ist, war die Party echt cool.
Bevor Thomas gekommen ist, war die Party echt cool.

6.
Italians like to do “aperitivo” before dinner.
Italiener machen ____ dem Abendessen gern “Aperitivo”.
Italiener machen vor dem Abendessen gern “Aperitivo”.

7.
Thomas really wants to fall asleep before the opera begins.
Thomas will unbedingt einschlafen, ____ die Oper anfängt.
Thomas will unbedingt einschlafen, bevor die Oper anfängt.

8.
The movie was awful, but I already knew that before.
Der Film war furchtbar, aber das wusste ich schon ____ .
Der Film war furchtbar, aber das wusste ich schon vorher.

9.
Maria is very nervous before her date.
Maria ist ____ ihrem Date sehr aufgeregt.
Maria ist vor ihrem Date sehr aufgeregt.

10.
Thomas always drinks an espresso before work.
____ der Arbeit trinkt Thomas immer einen Kaffee.
Vor der Arbeit trinkt Thomas immer einen Kaffee.

11.
Thomas always drinks an espresso before he starts working.
Thomas trinkt immer einen Espresso, ____ er anfängt zu arbeiten.
Thomas trinkt immer einen Espresso, bevor er anfängt zu arbeiten.

12.
Thomas has commenced working. Before that, he drank an espresso.
Thomas hat angefangen zu arbeiten. ____ hat er einen Espresso getrunken.
Thomas hat angefangen zu arbeiten. Davor hat er einen Espresso getrunken.

13.
You shouldn’t eat pasta before you work out.
Man sollte keine Pasta essen, ____ man trainiert.
Man sollte keine Pasta essen, bevor man trainiert.

14.
You shouldn’t eat pasta before the work out.
Man sollte ____ dem Training keine Pasta essen.
Man sollte vor dem Training keine Pasta essen.

15.
The work out is very demanding. That’s why you shouldn’t eat pasta before.
Das Training ist sehr anstrengend. Deshalb sollte man ____ keine Pasta essen.
Das Training ist sehr anstrengend. Deshalb sollte man davor/vorher keine Pasta essen.

16.
After eating you should rest or do 1000 steps.
____ dem Essen soll man ruhen, oder 1000 Schritte tun.
Nach dem Essen soll man ruhen, oder 1000 Schritte tun.

17.
First, I talk. The thinking comes after.
Erst rede ich. Das Denken kommt ____.
Erst rede ich. Das Denken kommt danach.

18.
After Maria has done yoga, she meditates.
____ Maria Yoga gemacht hat, meditiert sie.
Nachdem Maria Yoga gemacht hat, meditiert sie.

19.
Maria always drinks a smoothie after the work out.
Maria trinkt ____ dem Training immer einen Smoothie.
Maria trinkt nach dem Training immer einen Smoothie.

20.
Maria always drinks a smoothie after she has worked out.
Maria trinkt immer einen Smoothie ____ sie trainiert hat.
Maria trinkt immer einen Smoothie nachdem sie trainiert hat.

21.
Maria works out four times a week. After that, she always drinks a smoothie.
Maria trainiert vier mal pro Woche. ____ trinkt sie immer einen Smoothie.
Maria trainiert vier mal pro Woche. Danach trinkt sie immer einen Smoothie.

22.
The birthday party was cool. The day after not so much.
Die Geburtstagsparty war cool. Der Tag ____ nicht so sehr.
Die Geburtstagsparty war cool. Der Tag danach nicht so sehr.

23.
The day after the party wasn’t so cool
Der Tag ____ der Party war nicht so cool.
Der Tag nach der Party war nicht so cool.

24.
“I was at the bar after work, having a drink.”
“Yeah, but where were you after that? After you were at the bar…”
“Ich war ____ der Arbeit in der Bar, was trinken.”
“Ja, aber wo warst du _____? _____ du in der Bar warst…”
“Ich war nach der Arbeit in der Bar, was trinken.”
“Ja, aber wo warst du danach? Nachdem du in der Bar warst…”

25.
After the unicorn listened to Alan’s arguments, it eats one kilogram of beef tartar.
____ sich das Einhorn die Alans Argumente angehört hat, isst es ein Kilo Rinder-Tartar.
Nachdem sich das Einhorn die Alans Argumente angehört hat, isst es ein Kilo Rinder-Tartar.

26.
You don’t know before, what you’ll think after.
_____ weiß man nicht, was man ____ denkt.
Vorher weiß man nicht, was man danach denkt.

27.
After the game is before the game.
____ dem Spiel ist ____ dem Spiel.
Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel. (very common German soccer wisdom)

28.
I can’t decide whether I shower before dinner or after.
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich ____ dem Abendessen dusche, oder ____.
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich vor dem Abendessen dusche, oder danach.

29.
I can’t decide whether I shower after dinner or before.
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich ____ dem Abendessen dusche oder ____ .
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich nach dem Abendessen dusche oder davor.

30.
I can’t decide whether I shower before or after dinner.
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich ____ oder ____ dem Abendessen dusche.
Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden, ob ich vor oder nach dem Abendessen dusche.

***

Yeay!!! You made it!!!
How did you do? Was it hard or easy? Where there any that you struggled with in particular? Let me know all your questions in the comments and I’ll try to clear them up there.
Hope you enjoyed this and see you next time.

 

for members :)