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hi there, 22nd December, 2006 (Friday)

Which one(s) of the following statement is/are more natural? I want to explain that an exhibition ended on 16th December, 2006.

1. 16th December was the last day of the exhibition.

2.The third Saturday of December was the last day of the exhibition.

3.One Saturday ago was the end of the exhibition.

4.One Saturday before was the end of the exhibition.
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1. 16th December was the last day of the exhibition. this is ok. Better style if you reverse the order 'The last day of the exhibition was 16th December.

2.The third Saturday of December was the last day of the exhibition. This is theoretically ok but rather complicated, I can't see it being used much. Again, reverse as above.

3.One Saturday ago was the end of the exhibition. This sounds rather like an archaic proclomation. 'Three score years and ten ago, blah blah blah'. Not natural. It is better with the word order reversed. The end of the exhibition was one Saturday ago. We would mainly use 'number day ago' if it were more than one. Two Saturdays ago. If it were only one Saturday ago we'd use 'last Saturday'. The end of the exhibition was last Saturday. Again, this still doesn't sound like something people really say, although it is grammatically correct. The best option is 'The exhibition ended last Saturday.'

4.One Saturday before was the end of the exhibition. No, you can't use 'before' in this way. Before what? Before can only be used when you are stating what happens afterwards. The end of the exhibition was the Saturday before the end of term.
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hi Nora,

Still want to ask about 'before'. You said, 'Before can only be used when you are stating what happens afterwards. The end of the exhibition was the Saturday before the end of term.' But how about 'I had a flu two days before.'?

Simon
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Hi nona,

I know somebody has posted the similar question. As a non-native speaker, I still don't understand the natural way of describe the day I want to say.

Today is 23rd Decemeber, 2006 and I want to describe something that happened on 1st December, 2006 (Friday). Can I say 'three Fridays before last'?

Simon
But how about 'I had a flu two days before.'? (flu - no determiner).

No, this doesn't work. I had flu two days ago. This is stating when you had flu. Today is Wednesday and you had flu on Monday.

If you said to someone 'I had flu two days before' they would ask 'before what?'. It wouldn't mean two days ago. It could be I had flu two days before my wedding in 1988. I had flu two days before I went on holiday last summer but luckily I was ok by the time I went. I had flu two days before Sarah had flu. (it doesn't tell us exactly when either of us had flu, just that I had it first and then Sarah had it two days later).

Today is 23rd Decemeber, 2006 and I want to describe something that happened on 1st December, 2006 (Friday). Can I say 'three Fridays before last'?

No, it's not natural to express it in this way and in any case you are ending up with one week two many. The 'before last' has to be taken as meaning 'before last Friday' (as you are not bothering to tell us what the 'before' applies to, so we have to make this assumption) so 3 Fridays before last Friday is actually 4 Fridays ago... Why make it complicated when you can just say 'three Fridays ago'?

Lets try an easier example.

Today is Friday.

If I did something 'two days ago' I did it on Wednesday.

If I did something 'two days before today' I did it on Wednesday (but that is an unatural way to express this, as I said before, it makes it more complicated than 'ago'. That's what we have the word 'ago' for, this specific meaning, so use it).

If I did something two days 'before Thursday', I did it on Tuesday.

I can't express this by saying 'two days ago' or 'two days ago Thursday'.

'Ago' can only work from the present time. 'Before' can work from any time - even thousands of years. '1066 was one year before 1067'. 2005 was one year ago. That is why you have to specify a time scale with 'before'. On its own it doesn't tell you when anything happened. You can't assume anyone will think you mean before 'today's date' as it doesn't mean that. 'Ago' means 'before today's date'.