Avant vs Devant

French prepositions

Avant vs devant
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The prepositions avant and devant have somewhat similar meanings, which of course means that students sometimes get them confused. Learn the difference between avant and devant to get in front of any potential confusion.

Par exemple…

J’ai pris une photo devant le pont avant de le traverser.
I took a picture in front of the bridge before crossing it.


Avant means "before" in terms of time or a sequence of events. It can be used with expressions of time, nouns, and stressed pronouns.

avant 10h   before 10 o’clock
avant jeudi   before Thursday
avant la réunion   before the meeting
avant toi   before you

Avant can also be used with verbs.

1) de + infinitive

avant d’avoir des enfants   before having kids
avant de te réveiller   before waking you up

2) que + subject + ne explétif + subjunctive / past subjunctive

avant que je n’aie des enfants   before I have kids
avant que tu ne sois parti   before you left

 Antonym: après


Devant means "in front of" and indicates a position or location, whether literal or figurative. It’s used only with nouns and stressed pronouns.

devant le restaurant   in front of the restaurant
devant cette situation   in front of / faced with this situation
Je veux m’asseoir devant toi.   I want to sit in front you.
Passez devant (moi)   Go in front of me

 Antonym: derrière

 Related lessons

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French preposition sur

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