If Turkish is your mother tongue, then you might have difficulty with ago, earlier, before, after, in, and later.
These words can be adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions and adjectives. Here I look at the most basic errors by Turks and provide a couple of examples to explain how you can use the idea of sonra and önce in English.
Of course, this small article cannot explain every use of these words… but I think it might help a few of you.
Ago, earlier, or before?
How do you express this idea in Turkish: Üç gün önce sinemaya gittim.
You can use ago or earlier. Ago would be more common.
I went to the cinema three days ago is natural spoken English
I went to the cinema three days earlier is also correct, but possible more formal.
- He left three days ago.
- He left three days earlier.
Don’t use before.
In the two sentences above, ago and later are adverbs.
How to use before
Next, how do you deal with: Sinemaya gitmeden önce kahve içtik?
To express this idea in English, you need to understand that önce joins two events. So before is the correct word to use:
- We drank coffee before we went to the cinema, or
- Before we went to the cinema we drank coffee.
In these examples, before is a conjunction.
Don’t use ago or later.
After, later or in?
Üç gün sonra sinemaya gidiyoruz.
Here, you are talking about an event in the future. The only correct word is in:
- We’re going to the cinema in three days.
And, üç gün sonra Istanbul’dan ayrılacak.
- He’ll leave Istanbul in three days.
What about this?
Üç gün önce Istanbul’dan ayrıldı.
This is something that happened in the past, so the correct word is ago.
- She left Istanbul three days ago.
Don’t use later.
But, if you are talking about an event that happened before another event in the past, then you need to use later or after.
Istanbul’a geldi. Üç gün sonra ayrıldı.
He arrived in Istanbul and left two days later.
Again, later is an adverb.
How to use after
After is both an adverb and a preposition in English
Biz geldikten sonra ayrıldı.
He left after we arrived.
Yemekten sonra sinemaya gidiyorum.
I’m going to the cinema after dinner.
In the first example, after is an adverb.
For the second example, after is a preposition.
I know that advanced learners and native English speakers might disagree with me, but the idea is to make the use of the words a little easier.
Any ideas or comments?
Note: I’ve also now posted this post on my new site for Turks Learning English!