Before vs So - What's the difference?

before | so |

As a preposition before

is earlier than (in time).

As an adverb before

is at an earlier time.

As a conjunction before

is in advance of the time when.

As a pronoun so is





(English prepositions)
  • Earlier than (in time).
  • * (Jonathan Swift) (1667–1745)
  • Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=5 , passage=We made an odd party before the arrival of the Ten, particularly when the Celebrity dropped in for lunch or dinner.}}
  • * {{quote-news, year=2011, date=November 11, author=Rory Houston, work=RTE Sport
  • , title= Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland , passage=Stephen Ward then had to time his tackle excellently to deny Tarmo Kink as the Wolves winger slid the ball out of play before the Estonian could attempt to beat Given.}}
  • In front of in space.
  • * (John Milton) (1608-1674)
  • His angel, who shall go / Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
  • *
  • He tried to persuade Cicely to stay away from the ball-room for a fourth dance.she found her mother standing up before the seat on which she had sat all the evening searching anxiously for her with her eyes, and her father by her side.
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2013, month=September-October, author=(Henry Petroski)
  • , magazine=(American Scientist), title= The Evolution of Eyeglasses , passage=The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.}}
  • Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone).
  • * (John Ayliffe) (1676-1732)
  • If a suit be begun before an archdeacon
  • In store for, in the future of (someone).
  • * (Thomas Carlyle) (1795-1881)
  • The golden ageis before us.
  • In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items.
  • At a higher or greater position in a ranking.
  • * (Bible), (w) i. 15
  • He that cometh after me is preferred before me.
  • * (Samuel Johnson) (1709-1784)
  • The eldest son is before the younger in succession.


    * (earlier than in time) by, no later than * (in front of in space) ahead of, in front of * (in front of according to an ordering system) ahead of


    * (earlier than in time) after, later than * (in front of in space) behind * (in front of according to an ordering system) after


  • At an earlier time.
  • * , chapter=12
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. It was ugly, gross. Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexion—or rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversation—such talk had been distressingly out of place.}}
  • In advance.
  • At the front end.
  • * 1896 , (Hilaire Belloc), The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts , :
  • When people call this beast to mind,
    They marvel more and more
    At such a (little) tail behind,
    So LARGE a trunk before .


    * (at an earlier time) previously * (in advance) ahead * (at the front end) in front


    * (at an earlier time) after * (at the front end) behind

    Derived terms

    * beforehand * beforetime


    (English Conjunctions)
  • in advance of the time when
  • (informal) rather or sooner than
  • Synonyms

    * (rather than) lest


    * Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "Spatial particles of orientation", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition , Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8



    (wikipedia so)


    (English Conjunctions)
  • In order that.
  • With the result that; for that reason; therefore.
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’
  • (label) Provided that; on condition that, as long as.
  • * , II.18:
  • As we cal money not onely that which is true and good, but also the false; so it be currant.
  • * (John Milton)
  • Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength.

    Usage notes

    Chiefly in North American use, a comma or pause is often used before the conjunction when used in the sense with the result that''. (A similar meaning can often be achieved by using a semicolon or colon (without the ''so'' ), as for example: ''He drank the poison; he died. )


    * (in order that) so that, that


  • To the (explicitly stated) extent that.
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’
  • * 1963 , Mike Hawker, (Ivor Raymonde) (music and lyrics), (Dusty Springfield) (vocalist), (I Only Want to Be with You) (single),
  • Don?t know what it is that makes me love you so , / I only know I never want to let you go.
  • (lb) To the (implied) extent.
  • [= this long]
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=2 , passage=We drove back to the office with some concern on my part at the prospect of so large a case. Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke.}}
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Old soldiers? , passage=Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. The machine gun is so much more lethal than the bow and arrow that comparisons are meaningless.}}
  • # (lb) Very (positive clause).
  • #*
  • Captain Edward Carlisle; he could not tell what this prisoner might do. He cursed the fate which had assigned such a duty, cursed especially that fate which forced a gallant soldier to meet so' superb a woman as this under handicap ' so hard.
  • # (lb) Very (negative clause).
  • # Very much.
  • #*
  • Molly the dairymaid came a little way from the rickyard, and said she would pluck the pigeon that very night after work. She was always ready to do anything for us boys; and we could never quite make out why they scolded her so for an idle hussy indoors. It seemed so unjust.
  • In a particular manner.
  • In the same manner or to the same extent as aforementioned; also.
  • * 1883 , (Howard Pyle), (The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood)
  • *:"Good morrow to thee, jolly fellow," quoth Robin, "thou seemest happy this merry morn." ¶ "Ay, that am I," quoth the jolly Butcher, "and why should I not be so ? Am I not hale in wind and limb? Have I not the bonniest lass in all Nottinghamshire? And lastly, am I not to be married to her on Thursday next in sweet Locksley Town?"
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=May 19, author=Paul Fletcher, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= Blackpool 1-2 West Ham , passage=It was a goal that meant West Ham won on their first appearance at Wembley in 31 years, in doing so becoming the first team since Leicester in 1996 to bounce straight back to the Premier League through the play-offs.}}
  • (with as) To such an extent or degree; as.
  • Usage notes

    Use of so''''' in the sense ''to the '''implied''' extent'' is discouraged in formal writing; spoken intonation which might render the usage clearer is not usually apparent to the reader, who might reasonably expect the ''extent'' to be made explicit. For example, the reader may expect ''He is '''so good'' to be followed by an explanation or consequence of how good ''he'' is. Devices such as use of underscoring and the exclamation mark may be used as a means of clarifying that the implicit usage is intended; capitalising ''SO'' is also used. The derivative subsenses ''very'' and ''very much are similarly more apparent with spoken exaggerated intonation. The difference between so'' and ''very'' in implied-extent usage is that ''very'' is more descriptive or matter-of-fact, while ''so'' indicates more emotional involvement. This ''so'' is used by both men and women, but more frequently by women. For example, ''she is very pretty'' is a simple statement of fact; ''she is so pretty'' suggests admiration. Likewise, ''that is very typical'' is a simple statement; ''that is SO typical of him!'' is an indictment. A formal (and reserved) apology may be expressed ''I am very sorry'', but after elbowing someone in the nose during a basketball game, a man might say, ''Dude, I am so sorry! in order to ensure that it's understood as an accident.Mark Liberman, "Ask Language Log: So feminine?", 2012 March 26


    * (very) really, truly, that, very * (to a particular extent) that, this, yea * (in a particular manner) like this, thus * really, truly, very much

    Derived terms

    * or so * so-so * so there * so what


    (en adjective)
  • True, accurate.
  • *
  • *:“My Continental prominence is improving,” I commented dryly. ¶ Von Lindowe cut at a furze bush with his silver-mounted rattan. ¶ “Quite so ,” he said as dryly, his hand at his mustache. “I may say if your intentions were known your life would not be worth a curse.”
  • In that state or manner; with that attribute. ((replaces the aforementioned adjective phrase))
  • * 1823 , , Martha
  • If this separation was painful to all parties, it was most so to Martha.
  • * 1872 , (Charles Dickens), J., The Personal History of (David Copperfield)
  • But if I had been more fit to be married, I might have made you more so too.
  • *
  • At twilight in the summeron the floor.
  • Homosexual.
  • Synonyms

    * (true) correct, right, true * musical, one of the family, one of them, that way inclined

    Derived terms

    * make it so * more so


    (en interjection)
  • * , chapter=11
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients , passage=So , after a spell, he decided to make the best of it and shoved us into the front parlor. 'Twas a dismal sort of place, with hair wreaths, and wax fruit, and tin lambrekins, and land knows what all.}}
  • Be as you are; stand still; used especially to cows; also used by sailors.
  • Noun

    (en noun)
  • (label) A syllable used in to represent the fifth note of a major scale.
  • Abbreviation

    (Abbreviation) (head)
  • someone
  • Synonyms

    * sb