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We’ve looked at conjunctions that let you express temporal relationships in a sentence. Now let us look at some prepositions you can use to indicate when something happened.
До is used before a noun or a pronoun to refer to the time before something else happens.
Перед literally means “in front of” and refers to something that needs to happen first before something else happens.
In many cases, перед is similar in meaning to до. There are cases where you can only use до — usually when there’s a deadline and, if you don’t comply with it, it will be too late. For example:
In these cases, перед would be unusual.
Тому назад is used to say “X units of time ago.”
You can also use it as simply назад, omitting тому, which is more common in everyday conversation.
When one thing happens while another thing is happening, we can use во время (during). This structure can be used both for instantaneous and extended actions; see examples below.
На протяжении is similar to во время but can only be used for extended actions, i.e. situations where two actions are unfolding alongside one another. It is similar to the English “throughout.”
После means after and refers to one action that happens after another.
Note that no comma is needed after time phrases, even if you would use one in English.
Через is followed by a time period to indicate how much later something happened. This can refer to the past, present, or future.
Спустя is similar in use to тому назад, except спустя refers to “X units of time later.” Спустя can go before or after the noun it refers to.
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