A few days ago, I wrote about the difference between “in” and “later”, so today I’d like to write about the difference between “ago” and “before”. As I explained in the previous blog, “in” is used when talking about future times from the present moment and “later” is used when talking about future times from a time which is NOT the present moment.
In the same way, “ago” is used when talking about past times from the present moment and “before” is used when talking about past times from a time which is NOT the present moment. For example:
I’m late for the meeting. It started about ten minutes ago.
I went to Paris for my honeymoon about fifteen years ago. My wife and I would like to go back there again.
A few weeks ago I broke my leg, but it’s starting to get better now.
I went to a Korean restaurant on Thursday even though I had eaten Korean food three days before.
I couldn’t buy the video game I wanted. I got to the store at 6:30, and the clerk told me he had sold the last copy of the game a few minutes before.
Many people I know work at my company. I was hired by them in 2005, and my friend got a job there two years before.
As you can see with the word “before”, it is often used with the past perfect tense (had + pp). You can see this with examples 4 and 5. However, it can also be used with the simple past tense as in example 6. We use the past perfect tense when there is a direct connection between the two ideas, but we use the simple past tense when one event simply follows another event.