I've read this specific article: https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2011/mar/07/mind-your-language-ahead-of-before and am trying to figure out why the author wants to change "ahead of" to "before" in the quotes he mentions.

In order not to copy the whole article,here's in two words:

But the craze for writing "ahead of" to describe any forthcoming event, whether far in the future or imminent, has made coming across "before" in a newspaper about as likely as bumping into a recent recruit to the Nick Clegg fan club.

The author insists that using "before" is better than using "ahead of" in the following quotes:

"Ahead of the Christmas No 1 announcement on Sunday, readers define the perfect seasonal hit."

"Speaking at a press conference ahead of his 80th birthday, Gorbachev criticised Putin for manipulating elections."

"Talking to Simon Rattle ahead of his London residency with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra ... "

"University candidates are racing to submit their applications ahead of the tripling of tuition fees from autumn 2012."

He then says:

These examples are all from the Guardian and, I assure you, were not hard to find. But "ahead of" mania has gripped all newspapers and is heard more and more frequently on the BBC and other broadcasters.

As far as I see both "before" and "ahead of" can be used.

2 Answers 2


I would normally put this in a comment bearing in mind that my answer is partly based on opinion, however it is too long for a comment.

The author of the article doesn't seem to be asking for "before" to be used in all instances of using "ahead of". He is just making a valid point, which you have indicated in your question, that "before" can be used where "ahead of" is being used a lot. Yet, it is of the author's opinion that newspapers and other media seem to be avoiding the use of "before".

One point I would add to the author's article is that with the written word, you need to be mindful of the target age range of the reader. One way you can do this is by using Flesch–Kincaid readability tests to find out the readability of what you have written.

Whilst using this test, substituting "ahead of" with "before" can reduce the readability of whatever you are writing. This is because you are reducing the number of words, but you are not reducing the number of syllables in proportion to the word reduction.

On the other hand, on balance, it can be a little monotonous if you use the same words all of the time when you can use alternatives.


I'm with the author of the Guardian article. Why use "ahead of" instead of "before" when "before" has always been quite adequate? I would like to see "ahead of" used only in its traditional way to indicate a position in space rather than in time.

I suspect it's part of an increased trend to put "of" in expressions where it's just not necessary, such as "He fell off of the horse". Just leave out the "of", it doesn't add anything. I think that's come from American English, but I'm not convinced educated Americans use it.

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