462 - 前に

Now that I'm at a pretty solid level of Japanese, I can finally do fun things in Japanese like watch TV shows, play video games, and read books.

The problem these days is just finding the time to do those things.

Sometimes it seems like my only free time is the few minutes in bed before falling asleep. I could watch a TV show or play some video games at this time, but if I did, chances are I would never go to sleep... making work the following day into a nightmare.

So, I read. Ideally, I should only be reading books in Japanese since this is one of the best ways to increase comprehension and fluency at higher levels.

But often the allure of book series in English is too much to resist, and I spend weeks of reading English books in bed every night. Oops.

By the way, do you know how to say the following sentence in Japanese?

I read books before going to sleep.

Any guesses?

Well, here is the vocabulary that you would need:

私(わたし // I
本(ほん // book
寝る(ねる // to sleep
読む(よむ // to read
は( // [topic-marking particle]
を( // [object-marking particle]
に( // [particle for marking time]
前(まえ // before

Still not sure?

Well, our Japanese is going to be a compound sentence. So let's look at its two halves (without conjugation):

わたしは寝る
わたし は ねる
I sleep
Literally: "I + は + sleep"

本を読む
ほん を よむ
read a book
Literally: "book + を + read"

Now we just need to combine these two phrases using 前に (まえに // before [doing]):

わたしは寝る前に、本を読みます。
わたし は ねる まえに、 ほん を よみます。
I read books before going to sleep.
Literally: “I + は + sleep / go to bed + before + に, + book + を + read.”



Oh, also, we conjugated 読む into its ます-form, 読みます (よみます).

Looking at that sentence above, perhaps it's pretty obvious what we'll be studying in this lesson...


JLPT N5: 前に (before)

The word 前 (まえ) can be translated as a number of things, including "before," "ago," "ahead," and "the front."

In this lesson, we're looking at how it means "before." Specifically, we are using 前に (まえに) to say "X before Y."

As is often the case in Japanese, the order of elements in the sentence is the opposite of English.

What I mean is this:

X before Y.
= Y 前に X.

You'll notice that the order of X ("read books") and Y ("sleep") are also opposite in the English and Japanese of the example we already saw:

わたしは寝る前に本を読みます
わたし は ねる まえに、 ほん を よみます。
I read books before going to sleep.
Literally: “I + は + sleep / go to bed + before + に, + book + を + read.”



Hopefully that doesn't sound too complicated because I'm not sure how else to explain it. ^^


👷 Construction 👷

前に will always come directly after a verb in present plain form or "NOUN + の."


V る前に

NOUN前に

In this lesson, we'll see these verbs and nouns:

寝る(ねる // to sleep
食べる(たべる // to eat
運動(うんどう // exercise
食事(しょくじ // meal; food

So...

寝る前に
ねる まえに
before going to sleep; before sleeping
Literally: "sleep / go to bed + before + に

食べる前に
たべる まえに
before eating
Literally: “eat + before + に

運動前に
うんどう の まえに
before working out; before exercise
Literally: “exercise / physical training + の + before + に

食事前に
しょくじ の まえに
before (eating) a meal
Literally: “meal + の + before + に


Perhaps, with that, you're ready to take on these example sentences....


今日は夕食を食べる前に、シャワーを浴びた。
きょう は ゆうしょく を たべる まえに、 シャワー を あびた。
Today I took a shower before eating dinner.
Literally: “today + は + dinner + を + eat + before + に, + shower + を + took / showered.”



運動前に準備体操をしましょう。
うんどう の まえに じゅんび たいそう を しましょう。
Let’s do some warm-up exercises before working out.
Literally: “exercise / physical training + の + before + に + warm-up exercises (=preparation + calisthenics) + を + let’s do.”
Note: Wander around Japan early in the morning, and the chances of you seeing large groups of people doing ラジオ体操 (ラジオたいそう // radio calisthenics) together is pretty high. You can also practice at home using YouTube.



食事前に手を洗いなさい。
しょくじ の まえに て を あらいなさい。
Wash your hands before eating.
Literally: “meal + の + before + に + hand(s) + を + wash (=command form).”
Note: 洗いなさい is the "soft command form." We'll look at it in an N4 lesson in the future.




And that's it. You're done.

Maybe go pick out some simple vocab, make some short phrases using them, then see if you can connect your phrases using 前に. You absolutely will need to be able to use this grammar in order to achieve Japanese fluency.

Also, 前 is a mega-common word, so look out for its other uses as you come across Japanese in your studies.


Bonus Sentence:

私は毎朝ラジオ体操をしています。
わたし は まいあさ ラジオたいそう を しています。
I do radio taiso every morning.
Literally: "I + は + every morning + radio + calisthenics / exercises + を + am doing."
Note: ラジオ体操 is a specific type of exercise, the instructions for which are played on the radio every morning in Japan.




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