まえに (mae ni) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Before

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'まえに (mae ni) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Before'

Anna Baffa Volpe

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まえに (mae ni) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Before

The term まえに (mae ni) means before, ahead, ago, in front of.

It is used to describe something that happened before another thing, expressing time and it is also used in a context of space referring to something in front of another thing.

In this post we are going to learn all the possible meanings of まえに through example sentences in real contexts.

How まえに is formed

This word can be preceded by either a noun or a verb.

Verb in the dictionary form+まえに

(まえ)に is the transcription in kanji

Its antonym is represented by (あと)ato de meaning afterwards, after.

How and when まえに is used

まえに is used both when talking about something temporal and spatial.

Mae ni in spatial expression patterns

In this case the form follows the structure:

Noun indicating the space+(まえ)


A large number of students were waiting in front of the library.


A wonderful view suddenly appeared in front of me.

()(まえ)に in front of my eyes


Let's go to the snack bar in front of the school.

Mae ni in temporal expression patterns

In this case we find temporal expressions of various kinds or nouns that imply temporal contexts.


Let's drink plenty of water before jogging!


I met him a week ago.

Here are some useful structures:

  • 10日前に tōka mae ni: 10 days ago
  • 2ヶ月前に nikagetsu mae ni: 2 months ago
  • 5年前に gonen mae ni: 5 years ago

As we see in this kind of expressions the particle の is obmitted between the number and the numeric suffix expressing time and (まえ)に.

前 can be followed by the particle の and becomes an adjective:


The day before, the previous day


What happened two years ago


It's better to book a hotel before the trip.

Before doing something

まえに is widely used in combintion with the plain form in present tense and refers to an action occurring before another.


I buy souvenirs before going back to my country.


I meditate every morning before leaving home.

The verb is used in its affirmative form.

  • ()(もの)()(まえ)に before going shopping
  • ()める(まえ)に before deciding something

Use of (まえ) in a title of an article from the Internet

学校の前: in front of the schools


Properties in front of the schools. What are the disadvantages?

Dore gurai mae ni

どのぐらい(まえ)dono gurai mae ni, a useful interrogative form to ask:

  • How long?
  • How long ago?
  • How far in advance?
  • How early?
どのくらい前に: How far in advance?


How far in advance do you go on the day of the exam?

A similar situation and sentence:


How early should I get to the test room?

Other sentences:


How long ago did he call?


How far in advance should I make the reservation?

Exemples of まえに


I came to Japan three years ago.



Sorry, did you wait for me?



No, I just got here five minutes ago.

The form たばかり refers to something that just happened.


Don't forget to brush your teeth before going to sleep.


Before I graduate from University, I want to travel to various places.


I was speechless when I stood in front of him.