Identify the part of speech of the word in bold:

It will be five years before we meet again.

4 options:

  • Preposition
  • Adverb
  • Conjuction
  • Adjective

Now, According to my knowledge, "before" is an adverb. However the correct answer was - conjunction. What am I missing?


3 Answers 3


Traditionally, it's referred to as a "subordinating conjunction" because it introduces a subordinate clause.

But in modern grammar, it's analyzed as a preposition that takes a clause rather than a noun phrase as a complement.

  • 2
    Hooray, an accurate answer :-) Jun 21, 2017 at 13:01
  • 1
    Thanks for pointing out that there are multiple terminologies that use the same words to stand for different things. Almost certainly the OP is asking about traditional grammar. "Modern" (that is, scientific, esoteric) grammar uses the word "preposition" to denote words of a kind that in common usage are not called prepositions, such as "home".
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 22, 2017 at 4:29

The word "before" is a preposition here. Refer to Oxford Dictionary and Cambridge Dictionary for grammar.

Before means During the period of time preceding (a particular event or time) and here's the explanation English Grammar Today:

Before as a preposition

We use before most commonly with noun phrases to refer to timed events.

However, "EnglishPractice" says that it is a conjunction here.

As a conjunction before means ‘previously to the time when’. The conjunction before joins two clauses together. Note that before and its clause can come either before or after the other clause. In subordinate clauses introduced by before we use a present tense to refer to the future.

  • I will call you before I go. (NOT I will call you before I will go.)
  • Oxford Dictionary doesn't support your argument though. Apparently, there hasn't yet a dictionary analyzing "before+clause" as a preposition. Jun 21, 2017 at 12:31

In that sentence, before is acting as a conjunction because it would be putting two clauses together, but in that phrase there aren't two clauses so its not a complete sentence. if it was a complete sentence however, it would say, we will do "this" before we meet again. Here it is acting as a conjunction by putting the two clauses together

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .