Difference between AGO, BACK, and BEFORE

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Ago and back (informal) are used for past times from the present moment:

  • I graduated from high school ten years ago.
    (ten years in the past from today)
  • We sent the package three days ago.
    (three days in the past from today)
  • I moved here about five years back.
    (informal – five years in the past from today)

Before and earlier are used for past times from another time in the past.

Here are some examples:

  • Yesterday I missed my train. I got to the train station at 7:10, but the train had left ten minutes before. (or ten minutes earlier)
    (= at 7:00, ten minutes before 7:10 yesterday)
  • I was very happy when I got this job last June, because I had lost my previous job six months before. (or six months earlier).
    (= six months before last June)

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600+ Confusing English Words Explained

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