Does this sentence make sense, and does it mean that you will reach a place earlier than someone else? Or would you have to say "ahead of you" or the aforementioned "earlier than you"?

I will be there before you.

3 Answers 3


before you makes sense and is completely idiomatic, probably more idiomatic than "I'll be there earlier than you". One of the meanings of before is "at an earlier time", and this is an example of using the word in that sense.

In fact, "I'll be in Scotland before you" is part of the lyrics of a famous song. (It's often written and sung as afore ye, which is archaic, but the words and meaning are essentially the same.)

  • Is it Scottish English or is it Scots? Not convinced even a Glaswegian would say "afore ye" these days...
    – Muzer
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 8:59
  • @Muzer The rendition of The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond on Wikipedia renders it "afore ye" but is clearly in English, not Scots. Compare, for example, this fragment of the New Testament in Scots. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 9:11
  • @DavidRicherby Fair enough. I guess it hardly has to be an accurate representation of modern Scottish English dialect!
    – Muzer
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 9:13
  • 1
    @Muzer Indeed -- it's a traditional song, so the lyrics we know today are probably a mishmash of idioms and edits over hundreds of years. It probably doesn't correspond to the dialect of any specific time, any more. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 9:16
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    @Muzer - just to avoid confusion or misrepresenting anyone, I'm editing my answer. I thought it was Scottish usage, but what do I know?
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 11:44

I will get there before you
I will get there ahead of you
I will get there first

all mean

I will get there earlier than you

and are interchangeable without loss of meaning.

  • 1
    Hmmm, could it also mean "I will be there [standing] before you"? (Say, part of longer speech: "When that day comes and you face your enemies, I will be there before you". Just wondering about the interchangeability.
    – muru
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 8:26
  • Saying "standing there before you" is ambiguous since it could mean either in terms of time or in terms of location, one might say in front of you to remove ambiguity. In the OP's examples get there implies in terms of time.
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 17:09

“I will be there before you will be there.”

You are referring to an earlier part in the sentence.

  • Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. See the Submitting Answers that merely answer the question discussion on meta. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 8:43
  • This is grammatically correct but it's unidiomatic. Nobody would ever say this, unless there was some unusual reason that made them need to spell it out in so much detail. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 9:13
  • Well, that's not the point i'm getting at. It means that, no-one actually says it that way... Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 9:08

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