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What is the difference between:
- two years ago (I played basketball two years ago).
- before two years ago (I played basketball before two years ago).

Let's say we are in 2009 now. So two years ago is 2007.
How about (before two years ago)? Is it still 2007
Comments  
Before two years ago is wrong. I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say. Perhaps: I used to play basketball until I quit two years ago.

CB
Hi,

How about this:

- Before two years, my health was very bad.
- Two years ago, my health was very bad.
- Before two years ago, my health was very bad.

Are they all grammatically correct. If so, what do they mean?
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Hi,
Magic79How about this:

- Before two years, my health was very bad.
- Two years ago, my health was very bad.
- Before two years ago, my health was very bad.

Are they all grammatically correct. If so, what do they mean?
Only the second sentence is correct.
This is very interesting because the construction (before NUMBER years ago) is so rampant in the American Corpus and was found in some academic journals. I cite some of the examples if found here:

1. . If war is common among people who live as humans did before 10,000 years ago, they reason, it must have been a common practice back then. #
2. of the same evidence. He has argued that war occurred regularly before 10,000 years ago. There is no evidence for it because of what he calls " a problem

3. what he calls " a problem of archaeological visibility. " # Before 10,000 years ago, Keeley pointed out, people were nomadic and did not live in permanent settlements

4. n't understand why it is that somebody that they never heard of before four years ago is more effective than they are when they think they have the power to bend

5. awful negative and hard to tell if it's any worse than before 20 years ago. Before, there was a little more respect shown toward the candidate. Now

6. all around the globe, huge vertebrates dominated most ecosystems. " Before 50,000 years ago, the distribution of the body sizes of mammals was roughly the same on all

7. An innkeeper's niece? I know you weren't a slave before two years ago. You're too proud, and you were a virgin, something you would

http://www.americancorpus.org /

So, in light of this common usage in the American corpus, how could we interpret BEFORE [number of years] YEARS AGO?
Do another search on the close equivalent "earlier than (NUMBER) years ago". Do you get more or fewer hits?

CJ
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Hi CJ,
I did and got 6 hits for "earlier than NUMBER years ago"

1. just a few blocks before the tracks and two streets off Eleventh where, sometime earlier than fourteen years ago, he might have heard the train's early morning rumble

2. , an archaeologist at the Australian National University in Canberra, argues vigorously that dates earlier than 800 years ago, as determined by AMS measurement, can be explained by

3. 100,000 years old, and most anthropologists believe that humans came to the Americas no earlier than 30,000 years ago, and probably much more recently. # Leakey's support

4. , until about 14,000 years ago. Traditionalists also note the paucity of well-documented sites earlier than 12,000 years ago in the Americas and before 18,000 years ago in Siberia:

5. and by the archeological record that showed no evidence of human occupation in North America earlier than 11,500 years ago. The centerpiece of this evidence is a distinctive fluted projectile

6. flowering plants to insects to birds-are now forced to cope with springtime arriving 30 days earlier than 10 years ago. Arctic Fox A seminal study of Arctic fox DNA upends

But 19 hits for "before * years ago".

Before two tears ago