1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Swedish
  4. >
  5. Innan vs. före


Innan vs. före

Hallå !

So I'm learning the prepositions and the conjonctions and I have a question about innan and före. Both seem to mean "before" but what is the difference ? Is innan for the time-related before and före for the space-related before ? Or something else ?

Tack för din hjälp :)

February 20, 2015



They are quite funny words. Their meanings have been changing on and off for half a millenium now!

I'd say you can generally use both as synonymous prepositions, especially in everyday speech. Personally, I use före as a preposition (e.g. före frukosten - before breakfast), and innan as a subjunction (e.g. innan vi äter frukost - before we eat breakfast). This has been the prevalent prescriptive method throughout most of the 20th centure, and I like the challenge of trying to speak "correctly".

But to be honest, the reason it's been taught as correct is mostly that the Stockholm dialect makes this distinction, while less trendy dialects don't.


Ok, got it. Tack :)


Whether people use före and innan as synonymous prepositions has nothing to do with geographical origin. I'd say it depends on age, education and/or snobbery :).


Lundgren8 wrote very well about this here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5886416


PS we've got a sticky post in the Swedish forums with links to answers to many frequently asked questions. It's always a good idea to check there when you have questions about general things. We're expanding the list continuously too.



Oh, I didn't realise. Good to know.

Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.