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I have just arrived to my friend's house and he would like to know where I parked my automobile and asks me:

A) Where did you park your car?
B) I parked it before the post office.

Would you please tell me if the usage of "before" in my example is correct.enter image description here

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    I think when before is used as a spatial rather than a temporal reference (as in "How dare you fart before the Queen!" - "I'm sorry, I didn't know it was her turn!") it's usually relative to a (potentially mobile) person (before = in the presence of), rather than a "fixed location" such as the Post Office. But your example is ambiguous, in that it might mean before I got to the PO or [physically] in front of the PO. – FumbleFingers Oct 6 at 13:09
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    Possible duplicate of Using “before” for relationships other than time – FumbleFingers Oct 6 at 13:15
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    You could say "I parked it right by the post office - on the street facing side" or "It is parked on the main lane by the post office". – AIQ Oct 6 at 18:12
  • Thank you @FumbleFingers, but I exactly need to say: "before I got to the PO". If "before" doesn't work here, then how shall I say that? – A-friend Oct 7 at 6:52
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    To force the "temporal" interpretation, just say something like I parked it before I reached / got to the post office. – FumbleFingers Oct 7 at 14:10
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To me, this does not sound very natural. It would be better to say something like:

  • I parked it near to the post office
  • I parked it next to the post office
  • I parked it at the side of the post office
  • I parked it by the post office.
  • I parked it just past/ just before the post office.
  • Excellent answer @books4languahes.com. Just out of curiosity, what about when I park my car "after" the post office? I think all your offered sentences would be the same, except for the last one which would be "just after". Right? I wonder if "just past" means "after". – A-friend Oct 7 at 10:56
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It's perfectly grammatical, but a bit ambiguous. Your friend would need to know which way you were travelling to work out which side 'before' was. If you said 'the other side of the Post Office' then in context I think that's unambiguous: from where you were when you said it, it can only mean one side.

The problem with both phrases is not grammatic, but that both 'before' and 'other side' are relative, and without more information - which way you were coming from, where you were when you said it - the side meant cannot be inferred.

Also, 'before' could mean the side of the Post Office you would reach before the Post Office when going there from where you are now.

  • Well @simon at rcl I wonder whether it would help to clear up this ambiguity if I add to the pic's details in the manner that it can show the traffic direction. – A-friend Oct 7 at 7:05
  • @A-friend Maybe, but unless you're showing it to who-ever you're talking to you need to describe it in words. You could say 'It's by the Post Office just to the east/west/north/south', or you could say 'it's to the left of the Post Office looking at from from across the street '. – simon at rcl Oct 7 at 13:56
  • Aha, I see @simon at rcl. Just, I would be please to know about your opinion regarding: "I parked it just past/ just before the post office." Does it still sound ambiguous to you? – A-friend Oct 8 at 8:28
  • Yes it is. Is 'Just Passed' on the left or on the right? Before and Passed need a point (the example has one) and a direction. 'Passed' in one direction is 'before' in the other. (PS 'Past' is a time-reference: 'It happened many years in the past'; 'Passed' is a location-reference and that's what you need.) – simon at rcl Oct 8 at 13:31
  • So it would be logically clear while there is a two way street and you could have not been arrived from an opposite side! – A-friend Oct 8 at 14:01

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