German Lessons

Topics

Before, Part I: bevor, vor, or vorher?

There are a number of German words that may be translated as "before," in the temporal meaning of "at a previous time." Among the most common are vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at these three German words that are commonly translated to English as "before."

 

The German word bevor is a subordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses. Note that in most cases, where bevor appears in the last half of a sentence, the verb is usually at the end of the sentence: 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Darf ich's Ihnen dann noch schnell erklären,

May I explain it to you quickly

bevor Sie Ihre Platten essen?

before you eat your platters?

Caption 62, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

 Play Caption

 

Drei Wochen lang betteln hier die Jungen,

For three weeks, the young beg here

bevor sie sich selber in die Fluten stürzen.

before they dive into the waters themselves.

Caption 23, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

 Play Caption

 

Aber bevor du jetzt schneidest,

But before you start cutting,

check erst mal, ob der Stoff passt.

first check whether the fabric is suitable.

Captions 77-78, Coronavirus - Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

 Play Caption

 

The German word vor is a preposition and is usually placed in a sentence to modify a noun. Note that when vor is used in its temporal sense, the definite or indefinite article of its noun is usually dative. For clarity, the preposition, the article, and the noun are in bold print:

 

Du musst den Ball vor dem letzten Schlag der Zwölf verlassen haben.

You need to have left the ball before the last stroke of twelve.

Caption 52, Märchenstunde - Das Aschenputtel

 Play Caption

 

Soll er die Tabletten morgens,

Should he take the pills in the morning,

mittags und abends vor oder nach dem Essen nehmen?

at noon, and in the evening—and before or after eating?

Caption 17, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 72: Nehmen Sie...

 Play Caption

 

Was bekommen wahlberechtigte Bürger und Bürgerinnen in Deutschland vor einer Wahl?

What do citizens who are eligible to vote in Germany receive before an election?

Caption 18, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

 Play Caption

 

The German word vorher is an adverb:

 

Alles andere kommt vorher.

Everything else comes before it.

Caption 35, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Konjunktionen

 Play Caption

 

Und dann kam es wieder aus dem Gully raus

And then it came out of the storm drain again,

und noch viel größer und noch viel böser als vorher.

much bigger and much meaner than before.

Caption 54, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

 Play Caption

 

Note that vorher is sometimes translated as "beforehand" and "previously," depending upon the context: 

 

Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen...

The possibility exists, to test every board beforehand...

Caption 41, Longboarding - mit Lassrollen

 Play Caption

 

Dann bekommt man Geld zurück, das man vorher dafür bezahlt hat.

Then you get the money back that you previously paid for them.

Caption 13, Diane - auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
To recap: bevor usually connects two sentences; vor is a preposition that usually uses the dative case when referring to time; and vorher is an adverb that, as we know, modifies a verb. The best way to get an understanding of which word is appropriate in which context is hear them being used, however. Go to Yabla German and search for each of the three words—be sure that the examples with vor that you find are related to time and not place—and see the different ways that people commonly use them.

Winter Sports

In many German-speaking countries, winter sports are a popular pastime this time of year. The mountainous areas of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the region of South Tyrol in Italy are all popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding, and other activities. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Was ist denn Ihre Lieblingswintersportart?

What is your favorite type of winter sport then?

Caption 42, Deutsche Sporthilfe - Ball des Sports

 Play Caption

 

The nouns and verbs for many winter sports are quite easy to remember. The nouns Das Schlittschuhlaufen ("ice skating"), das Skifahren ("skiing"), and das Snowboardfahren ("snowboarding") correspond directly to the verb constructions Schlittschuh laufen  ("to ice skate"/"to go ice skating"), Ski fahren ("to ski"/"to go skiing") and Snowboard fahren ("to snowboard"/"to go snowboarding"). 

 

„Frederick, was ist Schlittschuhlaufen?"

"Frederick, what is ice skating?"

Caption 3, Piggeldy und Frederick - Schlittschuhlaufen

 Play Caption

 

Ich fahr' eigentlich auch total gerne Schlittschuh.

I actually also really like to go ice skating.

Caption 3, Diane - auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Ich selber bin jahrelang Snowboard gefahren, ähm, in den Alpen, äh, in Europa in der Schweiz.

I, myself, snowboarded for years, um, in the Alps, uh, in Europe, in Switzerland.

Caption 8, Longboarding - mit Lassrollen

 Play Caption

 

Ähm, ich fahre relativ gerne Ski und fahre gerne Snowboard.

Um, I like to ski, more or less, and I like to snowboard.

Caption 51, Deutsche Sporthilfe - Ball des Sports - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Watch any of the Yabla German videos above in their entirety, or click on the extra videos below to learn vocabulary related to equipment and technique: 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Skifahren lernen: Schneepflug zum Bremsen und Pflugbogen
Wintersport: Engadin Snow 2009

 

German Elisions: Dropping the -e

There is a tendency in spoken German to use shorter forms of words. This is something that is especially noticeable in the first person present tense of verbs: ich geh, ich fahr, ich komm, etc. instead of ich gehe, ich fahre, ich komme etc. While the former should not be used in any kind of formal writing and would certainly lose you points on an accredited German test, they are nevertheless considered standard German and not slang or dialect. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

This dropping of the letter is called an elision. The basis for dropping the -e above is die Sprachökonomie or "speech economy," a positive description of which is "the improvement of communication through simpler modes of speaking." A less flattering motivation for shortening words might be "simple laziness."

 

Since the dropping of the -e in first person present tense verbs is standard (though not formally correct) German, the use of an apostrophe to notate the missing -e is not only unnecessary, it is incorrect. According to Duden: Ein solches nicht vorhandenes e wird nicht durch einen Apostroph ersetzt. However, it is Yabla's responsibility to teach formally correct German, and it is a priority to avoid giving the impression that ich komm is formally correct. Therefore, Yabla has decided to let the German learner know that a letter is missing from the formally correct version by using an apostrophe to indicate the missing -e: ich komm'

 

Here are some examples of elisions on Yabla German with the missing -e marked with an apostrophe. Because of the apostrophe, you learn that the word is not formally correct and requires the missing letter to be formally correct. Remember, however, that the formally correct German way of writing the elision is actually without the apostrophe! 

 

Nee, ich komm' von [aus] der Pforzheimer Gegend.

No, I come from the area around Pforzheim.

Caption 33, Unterwegs mit Cettina - an der Rheinfähre

 Play Caption

 

Ich fahr' eigentlich auch total gerne Schlittschuh.

I actually also really like to go ice skating.

Caption 3, Diane - auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Ich geh' bloß, gern nach Italien in Urlaub.

I only,  like to go to Italy on vacation.

Caption 32, Fasching - mit Cettina - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Further Learning
Read this article about die Sprachökonomie and find more examples of elisions on Yabla German to see these words used in a real-world context.

You May Also Like