Difference between Ago and Before | Ago vs Before

‘Ago’ and ‘before’ are some of the most commonly used terms. Though both are used to refer to a past time, have you ever wondered if they are the same? This article will make sure that you understand everything about these two terms. So that from the next time you know how and when to use these words. The English Language is packed with such words, which often tend to confuse people and, as a result, misinterpreted by them.

The following topics discussed in this article will help you to have a better understanding of the terms ‘ago’ and ‘before’. Knowing about these terms will help one to implement them and frame grammatically correct sentences. So let’s look at these terms whether they are synonyms or whether they can be used interchangeably or not.

Table Summarising the Difference between Ago and Before




Ago is used to refer to a time that’s in the past in reference to the present time.

Before is used to refer to a time preceding the time of any specific event or action.


Used as an adverb.

Used as an adverb, preposition and conjunction.


The rain started long ago.

I used to visit this restaurant before.

This table shows that ‘ago’ and ‘before’ are entirely different from one another but is used to denote events in the past. Most people get confused between these words, but it’s essential that they understand the context they are using it in. Only then can they use these terms correctly.

The Difference between Ago and Before – Meaning

The words ‘ago’ and ‘before’ both are used to denote some point in time in the past. But these words can’t be used synonymously. The term ‘ago’ is used to refer to a time in the past in relation to the present. For example, “The baby went to sleep an hour ago.” Here the term ‘ago’ is used in relation to the present time, i.e. with respect to the current hour, the baby went to sleep one hour before. The term ‘before’ is used to denote a time preceding a specific time or action. The term ‘before’ can also be used as a preposition like “The house is before the market.” Here, the word ‘before’ is used to show the position of the house. Another example is, “He ended his career as a football player two years before.” The word ‘before’ is used as an adverb in this example.

Example of Ago and Before

The following example will help students to better understand the terms ‘ago’ and ‘before.’

Ago – Long time ago, there lived a king who ruled this land.

Before – Sam left minutes before Andrew came in.

Once people understand the meaning of ‘ago’ and ‘before’, they can quickly form examples on their own.

Ago and Before – Conclusion

To sum up, ‘ago’ and ‘before’ are not synonymous and can’t be used interchangeably. When one is using these words, one has to understand the context or will end up misusing them. This article talks about the essential points that help one to know how to use these two terms. BYJU’S offers many such ‘differences between two words’ that people often get confused with.

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