Italian adverbs of time
We humans like to think of everything in terms of space and time.
We like to place moments on a timeline to organize events.
We think chronologically.
This is why we always talk about the past, the present, or the future, and we have tenses that help us place events in time.
We also have time expressions that come in very handy when we want to specify when we did something.
Some of the most common time expressions are ora/adesso (now), ieri (yesterday), domani (tomorrow), prima (before), and dopo (after).
We call them adverbs of time.
In today’s post, we’re going to focus on a specific adverb of time: prima di.
We use prima di when we want to say things like “before doing”, “before going”, before eating”, etc.
So basically, we use this structure before a verb.
Prima di: structure
Let’s now have a look at how we use prima di:
- Structure: prima di + verb in the infinitive (e.g.: mangiare, leggere, dormire).
Prima di mangiare/prima di leggere/prima di dormire
Before eating/before reading/before sleeping
As you can see in the translations above, in English the structure is the following:
- Before + verb in -ing (like eating, reading, sleeping).
Here’s an example:
Prima di studiare, ho mangiato qualcosa.
Before studying, I ate something.
This structure helps us link two events in time: one that happens before and one that happens after.
In the example above, the event that happened before is the action of eating something.
The event that happened after is the action of studying.
So, make sure you don’t get confused. After prima di we place the action that happened after another action.
It’s exactly the same in English.
Prima di: examples
Just so you know, we can use this structure when we refer to the past, present, and future, as you can see in the examples below:
Prima di andare in Guatemala, sono andata in Messico.
Before going to Guatemala, I went to Mexico.
Di solito leggo un libro prima di dormire.
Usually, I read a book before sleeping.
Prima di iniziare a lavorare, Riccardo andrà all’università.
Before he starts working Riccardo will go to university.
Prima di cucinare, pulisci la cucina.
Before cooking, clean the kitchen.
Vogliamo andare al mare prima di partire.
We want to go to the beach, before leaving.
Ho fatto la spesa prima di venire.
I went grocery shopping before coming.
You probably noticed we can place the phrase starting with prima di at the beginning of the sentence or as the second part of it.
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