Which one of these is correct - "It happened right before me", "It happened in front of me"?

Meaning wise, it seems the second one is correct, the first one seems more 'dialectized' English, taken from grammar constructs of other languages by non-native English speakers.

Is my analogy correct, or is this usage of "before" a part of native English?

  • 1
    Both are okay. "Uchida had come to sit right before me and stare at my eyes.." (Arthur Golden) Dec 14, 2015 at 6:34
  • 2
    I believe that most, if not all, of the authors of these books are native speakers. Dec 14, 2015 at 6:40

1 Answer 1


If something happened in your presence/in the direction you are facing, you can say either "It happened before you or it happened in front of you". Before and "in front of" are interchangeable in this sense; that's what native speakers say.

However, you usually use "before" in formal contexts. The use of "in front of" is more common.

  • Wouldn't "before" literally mean "at an earlier point in time"?
    – cst1992
    Dec 14, 2015 at 9:26
  • @cst1992 Yes, both time and space meanings are within the semantic range of before. Example: he got here before me. You can test the 'time-sense' by expanding: he got here before I got here. In Khan's example, it happened before you expands to it happened before you happened. The context should tell you whether this makes sense. If not, it's probably intended in the 'space-sense'.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:29
  • That's exactly the point I was trying to make - 'before' in this context does not make sense in the time-sense. Good that it's okay to use in the space-sense as well.
    – cst1992
    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:41

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