Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the difference between the phrases antes que and antes de que? When should each be used? Are there contexts where one is correct and one is incorrect, or are they completely synonymous?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The DPD has the answer: antes que o antes de que. Here's the relevant portion:

3 . antes que o antes de que. Con significado temporal, ambas construcciones son válidas. En un principio, precediendo a la oración que expresa el acontecimiento que se toma como referencia, se usó solo la locución conjuntiva antes que (en latín, ante quam, antequam): «Antes que ellas se levanten, pasemos delante dellas» (MtzToledo Corbacho [Esp. 1438]). Cuando el término de referencia temporal es un sustantivo, un pronombre o un infinitivo, antes debe ir seguido de la preposición de: «Antes d’estos quinze días [...] / Aquellos atamores a vos los pondrán delant» (Cid [Esp. c1140]); «Antes de llegar se detuvieron en una posada a tomar un trago» (UPietri Oficio [Ven. 1976]). Del cruce de antes que y antes de, surgió antes de que, variante de la locución conjuntiva que algunos gramáticos censuraron en un principio por dequeísta (→ dequeísmo), pero que hoy se acepta como válida. Así, es igualmente correcto decir Llegará antes que anochezca y Llegará antes de que anochezca. Cuando la locución expresa preferencia, solo es válida la forma antes que: «Antes que verlo detrás de una reja [...], prefiero verlo muerto» (Asenjo Días [Esp. 1982]); con este último sentido, es posible la intercalación de elementos entre antes y que: Antes muerto que vencido.

To summarize:

Both expressions are valid when their meaning is that of a temporary locution:

Llegará antes que anochezca y Llegará antes de que anochezca.

Only antes que is a valid expression when the intended meaning is that of preference:

Antes que verlo detrás de una reja, prefiero verlo muerto. but not Antes de que verlo detrás de una reja, prefiero verlo muerto.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! Could you briefly summarize in English for those that can't understand the DPD? – jrdioko Jan 16 '12 at 19:48
@jrdioko I was just doing that ;-) By the way, do you know how can I put some text in a different color (red, for example)? – Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 19:52
Not that I know of (and that's probably by design). Bolding things makes them stand out though. – jrdioko Jan 16 '12 at 19:58
See this meta question. – jrdioko Jan 16 '12 at 20:12
@jrdioko: yes, I've already read the question; in this particular case, however, I really would like to use the standard "red color mark" to signal an incorrection... perhaps I'll revisit that question. – Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 20:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.