I am learning the duolingo English course. In some sentences, they use In front of, but the others use In the front of. Would you please let me know what is the difference between those two? Thanks

  • 7
    "In front of" means standing before another thing or person ("Stand in front of the house, please.") "In the front of" means in relation to the inside of an enclosure ("Stand in the front of the room, please.")
    – Robusto
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 23:51
  • 3
    For further details on front, back, top, bottom, left, and right, see Fillmore's Deixis Lecture 2: "Space". Commented May 6, 2014 at 0:09

4 Answers 4


In front of is a common phrase which functions as a compound preposition: in modern English it has almost completely replaced before in a spatial sense. If you try to analyse it, you need to interpret "the front of" as referring to a space outside the thing, which is a relatively uncommon meaning for it.

In the front of is not an established phrase in English, and so would normally be interpreted literally: "inside the front part of something". It is not common, because "the front of" something is usually a surface, and we don't often talk about things being in surfaces. An example where it might occur is I've got some water in the front of my watch, where we could understand "the front of my watch" meaning the space between the glass and the watch face.


In front of means the item is outside something, but in the front of means it is inside.

For example, a building can have a front and a back and someone standing before it would be in front of the building. Someone standing inside the building but in the front half, would be in the front of the building. Similarly they could be in the back of the building.

Another example would be in a race where a runner could be in front of the pack, which means they are ahead of the main group of runners, or they could be in the front of the pack, which means they are within the main group, but near the front, but probably not right at the front.

Oddly we don't say in back of very often, it's usually behind, but almost always in front of rather than before which is normally used when talking about time.

  • I have encountered in back of in American sources, but I don't know how common it is. It is unknown in British usage.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:53

The bus driver is in the front of the bus. My car was in front of the bus.

A bus has a front, a back, a middle, right side, a left side, some have an upper and a lower deck. When I’m inside the bus, I can be in the front, in the back, in the middle, on the left or right side, on the upper or lower deck.

The bus has been painted outside. They painted the front of the bus, the back of the bus, the two sides of the bus.

I am a pedestrian. I can be in front of the bus, behind the bus, to the left or the right of the bus, and if I’m unlucky I’m under the bus. Spider-Man has been spotted on the top of the bus, holding on. A drone was flying over the top of the bus.

There are different words with different meanings. You can’t say this one or that one is correct, it depends on what you want to express.


I kind of love this infographic. Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words :)

Hope this helps Jake 🙌🏻

enter image description here

Source: https://phoenixenglishlang.com/infront-or-in-front/

  • In this case, the picture didn’t say any words. If I wanted an illustration of “smartypants” or “book knowledge” then it would be moderately useful.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 26 at 11:27
  • On this site, we don't allow the posting of images as answers because that text is inaccessible to users who use screen readers. Also, none of the text in an image is searchable from the search bar. Further, the question was about "in front of" and "in the front of", which this infographic doesn't address. If there's any content in the image you think is worth sharing, please replace the image with typed out words. Also, answers consisting entirely of quoted material are frowned upon. If a question has already been answered and accepted, make sure your answer adds something new.
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 28 at 9:44
  • @gotube Got it! Thanks for letting me know.
    – James
    Commented Feb 28 at 20:22

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