How to use before doing: Italian grammar lesson 129


Unlock the secrets of Italian time with our guide on adverbs of time! Learn how to seamlessly weave moments into your Italian conversations, from ieri to domani, and master the art of prima di for that perfect chronological touch.

  • Now or Never: Get in the moment with Italian adverbs like ora and adesso. They’re your go-to for anything happening right this second! 🕒
  • Back to the Past: Feeling nostalgic? Drop an ieri into the convo and take a stroll down memory lane, Italian style. 📅
  • Future Tense: Got plans? Use domani to talk about all the exciting stuff you’ve got lined up for tomorrow. 🚀
  • Before the Action: Set the stage with prima di + infinitive verb. It’s like saying “hold up, let me tell you what happened first!” 🎬
  • After the Fact: Remember, after prima di, you’re queuing up the action that actually happened later. It’s like a time-travel teaser! ⏳
  • Flexibility is Key: Whether you’re a time traveler talking past, present, or future, prima di has got your back in any tense. 🕰️
  • Position Matters: Kick off your sentence with prima di for dramatic effect, or tuck it in later for a smooth storytelling flow. 📖

My thoughts

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 adverbs of time in Italian are ora and adesso (now), ieri (yesterday), domani (tomorrow), prima (before), dopo (after), and prima di.

We use prima di when we want to say things like before doing, before going, before eating, etc.

What is the structure of prima di?

And we use this structure before a verb: prima di + verb in the infinitive (e.g., mangiare, leggere, dormire).

Let’s now have a look at some examples:

Prima di mangiare.

Before eating.

Prima di leggere.

Before reading

Prima di dormire.

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 another 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 was the action of studying.

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So, make sure you don’t get confused. After prima di, we place the action that happened after another action.

It’s 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 could place the phrase starting with prima di at the beginning of the sentence or as the second part of it.

What is the structure of "prima di"?

"Prima di" + verb in the infinitive

Why do we use "prima di"?

For linking two events in time: one that happens before and one that happens after. After "prima di" we place the action that happened after another action

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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