We mostly see "ago" comes with time periods like two weeks ago, two nights ago.

What about using ago with things other than time periods like page, post, bus, girlfriend, etc.?

For example

  1. Please check three pages ago to find the answers

  2. Please go to three lines/paragraphs ago

  3. Refer to two posts ago for more information (Instagram)

  4. Did he leave with the last bus? - No, he left with two buses ago.

Sometimes, lines and posts aren't numbered so I can't say "go to line/post 14".

What is the right way to say these sentences?

  • When reading a badly written book I might say "I got bored three chapters ago". Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 9:24
  • 2
    Probably prefer 'earlier' or 'before'. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 9:26
  • @Michael Harvey So should I say " Please refer to three posts earlier for more information"?
    – Masih K
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 9:58
  • 2
    On a page of text, you can go three paragraphs "up" or "back".
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 13:19
  • "No, he left with two buses ago." is definitely not right, because "with" needs a noun phrase, and "two buses ago" is an adverbial phrase. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


Absolutely, but the register definitely comes across as informal. You might not want to use "ago" in a non-temporal context when writing something that has to be particularly formal.


No, ago refers to relative time, not sequence.

You can correctly say:

Something happened (one minute, one day, one week, one year, one decade, one century...) ago

For the examples you provided, correct grammar would use back or forward as these are referring to positions of items in sequential order.

  • 1) Please check three pages back to find the answers
  • 2) Please go three lines/paragraphs back
  • 3) Refer to two posts back for more information

    (Note: 3 is not something you'd usually write, rather than link directly to the post in question)

  • 4) This one is slightly more complex, and yes, you could use ago.

    • You don't "leave with" a bus unless you are implying that he left independently, at the same time as the bus. You would more properly say he took the bus. So:

"Did he take the last bus?" "No, he got on two buses ago."

  • This works because what you're referring to is the relative time he got on the bus. It is a condensation / contraction of saying "No, he got on the bus that passed two intervals prior to the last one." But it's also a very informal construction.

If you want to be precise, if you need to emphasize the sequential order of which bus he took, you might say:

"He took the bus that was two before the last one."

However, this is very stilted-sounding and you would rarely hear it conversationally. It is more common to specify the scheduled interval, i.e.

"He got on the 10:30 bus."

  • 1
    As long as a sequence of events can be understood, ago is perfectly natural and common. Its use refers to a time sequence, and forces the sentence into considering it. Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 14:58

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