"Мы долго думали, перед тем как задать этот вопрос."

Translation:We thought a long time before asking this question.

November 22, 2015

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I don't get the перед тем как construction as "before".

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If you are familiar with the formal English structure "that which", the Russian one is roughly the same.

  • Мне не понравилось то, что я услышал. = I did not like that which I heard. (sounds quite stiff in today's English)

Перед is originally a preposition (a prototypal preposition, actually,—it has been a preposition for a really long time), and you would expect it to stand before a noun or something that acts like noun. Also, it requires the Instrumental—an infinitive of a verb cannot provide you that.

So you use то as a noun-like pronoun and как as a conjunction to introduce a clause that specifies the reference point of "before". Together, they form a compound conjunction «перед тем как».


I came wondering what тем как was doing in this sentence, and you answered the question comprehensively. Thanks!


Igor, can we also say "перед того как"?

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We cannot because перед does not take the Genitive. It requires the Instrumental form.


А может быть "перед тем как мы задали этот вопрос"?


Так тоже можно сказать, только второе «мы» лишнее.


До того как


Would the proper translation be something like "We were thinking for a long time before asking this question"?


We thought for a long time before asking this question


Yeah i dont think they have the English translation for this one quite right and maybe because its flexible?


I agree, not naturally said like DL says


Why is перед тем как used here instead of до того как ?


До того как makes up for the lack of the Past Perfect tense in Russian. The phrase is used to introduce events that had happened before a particular event in the past, e.g. До того, как переехать в Чикаго, он жил в Нью-Йорке (Before he moved to Chicago, he had lived in New York city). Using "до того, как" is a must when the time gap between the two events is indicated: за час до того, как позвонить мне = an hour before calling me


Thanks for your careful answers. You're a good teacher.


They are approximately the same in meaning, but до того как is more like "until"


If I understand right, перед тем can also imply a smaller amount of time before the action was taken, where as до того is more general.


for a long time is not accepted? I wouldn't say thought a long time usually, 'for' is part of that phrase in my speech.


Why is the infinitive used here? I thought it should be здали или задали


Just remember, "before ... -ing" = перед тем как OR прежде чем + infinitive. "прежде чем", however, can also be followed by the past tense form (прежде чем задали) with no difference in meaning.


As a native speaker, I see no difference between "перед тем как задать" and "перед тем, как задали" but I think that "задать" is more correct here as it is answering the question "перед тем, как что сделать?" = "Перед тем, как задать"


What I doi not understand is that "как" means "how". Wouldn't it be "We thought along time how to ask this questuion"?


Apart from “how”, «как» has other meanings: «такой ... как»=“such ... as”, «как X, так и Y» = “both X and Y”, «как» may also mean “like” or “the way [of doing something]”. «перед тем, как + infinitive» = “before ...-ing”. There are lots of other set phrases with как.


Phrases like "pered tem, kak" (right before something), "do togo, kak" (generally some time before something) and "posle togo, kak" (after something) are set phrases to express time and as you see are used with verbs.

You can just use the preposition if using the noun. So for example...

"Do togo, kak nachat' etot protsess..."

Or "Do nachala etogo protsessa..."

can both work in many cases.


Duolingo should provide those translations.


We had been thinking a long time before asking this question?


Maybe because had been thinking is a past completed action and would need a perfective form?


Perfective verbs do not collocate with «долго». It would be correct to say, «Мы хорошо подумали перед тем, как задать вопрос» (literally, “We thought well before asking the question”), but “had been thinking” is Past Perfect Continuous (aka Past Perfect Progressive), which is used to emphasize the duration of a past action that started prior to another past action. Given that thinking was no longer in progress at the moment of asking the question, I would chose to use simple Past Continuous (“We we were thinking for a long time”) instead of the Past Perfect Continuous, but it is up to native speakers of English to decide which tense is more appropriate here.


Why is this one not accepted?


Why как instead of что or когда is used here?


"Перед тем как + infintive" (=before + -ing-form) and "после того как + subject + verb in the past tense" (= after + -ing-form) are set expressions in Russian. The word "когда" does not occur in them as they themselves answer the "when" question. When it is followed by как, the neuter demonstrative pronoun то in any of its forms inluding the oblique case forms (того, тому, тем, о том) usually refers to a manner in which an action is performed or the result of an action, e.g. Мне нравится то, как он это делает. (= I like the way he does it.) Всё зависит от того, как он сдаст экзамен. (=All depends on his exam result.). However, in "перед тем как" and "после того как" "то как" refers to an event rather than the time or manner. "То, что" is the equivalent of "what". Cf. Мне нравится то, что он делает (=I like what he is doing / what he does.) Всё зависит от того, что он мне скажет. (=All depends on what he will tell me).


Why us it not задали?


You can use «задали» too. However, infinitive forms such as «задать» are more common after «перед тем как». Likewise, “before we asked this question” is less common in English than “before asking this question”.


'We thought for a long time before we asked this question.' was not accepted. Is it incorrect?


It's correct English, although in the given translation "before asking" is more concise, and better style. The gerund "asking" also corresponds more closely to the Russian infinitive.


"We thought for a long time " seems more natural ?


Почему нет задаём?


The verb that follows «перед тем как» has to be perfective and most of the time is put in its infinitive form. «Задаём» is the 1st person plural of the imperfective verb «задавать».


Duolingo makes a correction: "Wed thought long before we asked this question." Why is there this word "Wed"?


It is supposed to be “We’d”, which is the contracted form of “We had”. However, I would use “We had been thinking” instead of “We had thought” in this sentence.


Where does the comma go? Is the placement optional (after 'думали' or after 'тем')?


"We took a long time to think before asking this question" was marked wrong. Why??

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