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"A star exploded right before my eyes," lead author Alicia Soderberg, an astrophysics researcher at Princeton University, said Wednesday in a teleconference.

Can I replace 'before' with 'in front of' without change of meaning?

Thanks!
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New2grammarCan I replace 'before' with 'in front of' without change of meaning?
Yes. That's fine. Of course it's impossible to take it literally, as no one is ever close enough to a star to claim that it is literally 'right in front of their eyes'. That may be why before was chosen. It's less likely to be taken literally.
CJ
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It's less likely to be taken literally.

This is new to me. Thanks, CJ.
There are several other words that work that way -- not that I can think of many good examples at this hour.
That is, certain words are more likely to be used in the context of abstract ideas and others in the context of concrete terms.
I may say that a person charged with a crime must appear before a judge. I mean this abstractly. I'm concentrating on matters of law, not on the physical position of the man in the courtroom -- which is to say that he is positioned in front of the judge.
Likewise, I can say that I'm behind you when I mean that I support your course of action. I'm not literally behind you. I can say that I am in back of you to indicate that I am literally behind you.
Only the more abstract term is usually used for abstract ideas, but either of the two can be used for the more concrete meaning.
CJ
Thanks a lot CJ!
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