Which of the following sentences is more correct or preferable?

You have to first install the PHP filter module.

You have to install the PHP filter module before.

The second sentence seems truncated, to me, as I would expect a sentence similar to "You have to install the PHP filter module before enabling the module you downloaded."

The reason I am asking is that in Italian first (as adverb) and before are both translated with prima. The correct Italian sentence would be the equivalent of the first one.

  • 1
    The first one is okay; the second is not okay. The first one could also be (a) "First, you have to install the PHP filter module" or (b) "You have to install the PHP filter module first". (a) & (b) are better than the first sentence you suggest. – user264 Apr 8 '13 at 7:41
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    The second one does not sound correct.I may be wrong, but AFAIK, before always preceedes another event. – Mistu4u Apr 8 '13 at 7:49
  • This is one of those times when it actually isn't ok to end a sentence with a preposition. The first sentence is correct. The second sentence works if 'before' is changed to 'beforehand' (not used quite as often these days) or simply use 'first' in its place – mcalex Apr 8 '13 at 9:40
  • @mcalex Ending a sentence with before is not necessarily wrong: You could say "I have seen him before." – kiamlaluno Apr 8 '13 at 14:29
  • @kiamlaluno Understood. Hence 'This is one of those times...' and nothing about a blanket ban on 'before' itself being the last word in a sentence. – mcalex Apr 9 '13 at 4:25

You can use before at the end of a sentence if you use it in answer to a question such as "Do I install A before B?" The answer could be "Before." If the question is "Do I install A before or after B" you can say "You have to install A before."

You can also put it at the end of a sentence if you use it in a statement such as "I did it before."

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  • Which of the sentences I shown is correct/preferable? – kiamlaluno Apr 8 '13 at 15:36

Sentence #1 is correct. The adverb first is modifying infinitive ‘to install’.

Before can also be used as subordinating conjunction.

Sentence #2 can be worded differently.

Before enabling the module you downloaded, you need to install the PHP filter module.

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  • "PHP filter" is the name of the module. :) I cannot rewrite the sentence as per your last suggestion. – kiamlaluno Apr 8 '13 at 15:34
  • @kiamlaluno I see. If the first step is to install the php module, then what is the second thing you were trying to say? The sentence can be constructed in this way: “Before using the <name here>, you need to install <name here>.” – EnglishLearner Apr 8 '13 at 16:21

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