Difference Between By and Before

Difference Between By and Before

Both ‘before’ and ‘by’ refer to time, but they are often confused as to what they mean. In English, the word before is used as a conjunction, conjunction, and preposition. It means a time that is in advance of a particular event. She is required to submit her work by Sunday.

This sentence means that the homework must be turned in by Thursday at the latest.

On the other hand, the word ‘by’ is used as a preposition and an adverb. When it comes to time, it is used to indicate a time that is later than a deadline. She is supposed to submit her homework by Friday. The homework must be submitted on Friday before midnight, according to the inherent meaning of the sentence.

By Vs. Before

The contrast between Before and By is that the former is used to refer to any task or project that must be finished on or before time. The latter is used to present any task or work that needs to be completed earlier than the deadline.

Comparison Table Between By and Before

Parameter of Comparison By Before
Grammatical usage preposition or adverb. Adverb, conjunction, and preposition.
Implications It refers to the end of any particular time.

II. indicates the particular location of any object adjacent.

In reference to a time, this word means “a period in advance of a specific time.” It is often used when referring to a future date. It also implies a place that is in front of something.
As a temporal word It is used when talking about a ‘last-minute decision’ that has to be made. If it stands for ‘earlier than a given time or a deadline, it is also known as a pre-or prior to.
How to use It is followed by a named time, usually, 10 o’clock or days of a week, say Sunday, Monday, etc. Either way, it is simply ‘the time’. ‘before breakfast’ and ‘before you go to sleep ‘are some of the phrases followed by the word ‘before’. It can also be followed by the mention of a specific time or day of the week.
Alternative phrase By the close of and, No later than Prior to, in advance of, ahead of

When to use Before?

In a sentence, the word before can be used as a conjunction. The term was derived from a Germanic term. It can be used in many ways as a temporal word. As a temporal term, it can be utilized in 3 ways:

  1. There’s a period of time prior in advance to any event.
  2. Till the happening of a particular event
  3. Referring to any event from the past

There is another usage besides temporal for the word ‘before’. Spatial usage is what that usage is. The term is used to mean the physical location of someone or something in front of another person or thing.

The term is used to indicate a preference in addition to the above-mentioned usages.

When to use By?

As a preposition, it can serve several purposes:

By indicating a medium or subject performing a function, you make an entity the focus of a sentence. “By” can be used in 3 such ways:

  • By following the passive verb
  • By following a noun referring an activity
  • Recognizing any author of any text or book

Achieving an end by identifying the means.

Referring to a measurement or a quantity.

To give the impression of ceasing activity at the end of a period of time.

A reference to the fact that the United States of America is next to Mexico.

According to or Related to someone or something.

As an adverb, it is used to indicate that something has gone past or beyond a normal limit. For example, he told her to go by his house anytime she wanted to, even though they were only friends.

‘By’ can also be used as an alternative for the noun ‘Bye’.

Difference Between By and Before

Both prepositions are used as prepositions and adverbs. ‘Before’ is also used as a conjunction while ‘By’ is not.

‘By’ is the ‘period of time’ that is before, until, or at the endpoint of a particular time, while ‘Before’ is the time period that is in advance or ahead of a particular time.

When using the word “by” with reference to time, it is usually followed by a named time or any day of the week. For example, 11:00 pm or Friday is a possibility. It could be followed by words like “the time” if a specific time or day is not mentioned.

When ‘Before’ is used with reference to time, it is usually followed by phrases like ‘before dinner’ or ‘before the football match. However, it may also be followed by a named time or day of a week.

The phrases “no later than” and “by close” are some of the alternative phrases for “by”. And for “before” is prior to, in advance, and ahead of the event.


The use of ‘by’ and ‘before’ in English can sometimes be a source of confusion. These two words are often used interchangeably for different reasons. But when it comes to deadlines and when something needs to be done by a certain time, these two words can cause some problems.

When the task must be completed prior to or at the last moment of the given deadline, it is advisable to use the word “by” in the sentence. When the task is supposed to be completed prior to the arrival of the deadline, the word before should be used in the sentence.

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