How to say "before" in Russian?
I'm confused about the word 'before' in Russian. I understand that 'before + an action' is "перед тем как + verb" but in terms of 'before + a time' I'm not sure what to say. My dictionary gives me two translations: 'перед + instrumental' and 'до + genitive'. The sentence I want to translate is "the city was built before 1254", and I'm not sure wether to translate it as "город был построен перед тысяча двести пятьдесят четвёртым годом" or as "город был построен до тысяча двести пятьдесят четвёртого года", so which is a more accurate translation? (if I've made any mistakes corrections would be appreciated too).
For me as a native Russian speaker it is a tricky question. “до” is used more in “until” meaning, and “перед” as “right before”. “перед” refers to a moment or a short period before some event, and “до” refers to the all time before.
In the given example correct option is “Город был построен до 1254 года."
For me (i'm native russian), "до 1254 года" means any year from minus infinity to 1253, and "перед 1254 годом" means a year just before 1254, e.g. 1253. ABCD are letters "до" E, but letter "перед" E is a letter D. That's how i see difference between these words. "Перед" is not always just exactly before, but in very close range. For example "мойте руки перед едой" (wash your hands before eating) doesn't mean you need to wash your hands and start to eat just after washing (you can for example serve your table between these two actions), it still counts as "перед", and of course counts as "до" too.
For me (a native Russian speaker) "город был построен перед 1254 годом" sounds ugly and "до 1254 года" is definitely better. However, in this particular context it is probably even better to say "раньше 1254 года".
Yeah, also "не позже 1254" or "не позднее 1254"—usually you can see this wording when there are some mentions of the town in 1254 and later—so, judging by historical accounts you can say it was built no later than in 1254 but you cannot tell how long before.
Your sentence is wrong. In this case you need to use another verb " Город был ОСНОВАН до 1254 года."
Нет, в исходном предложении написано built -- построен. Основан -- founded.