How to say BEFORE in Luxembourgish

During our conversation lessons, my students often want to say in Luxembourgish sentences such as Before I go to work I do this and that. And then I see them hesitating and most of the time I hear phrases such as:

 Virun ech ginn op d’Aarbecht, ech drénken Kaffi. 

Short sentence but with some mistakes😉. Correct is: 

  Éier ech op d’Aarbecht ginn, drénken ech Kaffi. 

So we need to use in this example the “tricky” word éier to express before I. 

But what is the difference between the tricky words virun and éier? And what about the word virdrun?

The Theory

Mixing up éier and virun and also virdun is a really common mistake; for beginners as well as advanced learners. All 3 words are different kind of words. 

Let’s start with the following examples:

  1. I wash my hands before I eat dinner.
  2. I wash my hands before dinner.
  3. I eat dinner. I’ll wash my hands before.

The colors kind of point toward the crucial differences.

In example number one, before connects a sentence.

In sentence two, it connects a noun, a thing (dinner). 

In sentence three, it connects nothing, but instead it is a stand-alone reference.

These are three absolutely distinct grammatical functions. The first one is a (subordinating) conjunction, the second one is a preposition and the last one is a temporal adverb.

The distinction of those terms doesn’t come naturally to you at all.

And that’s exactly why I’m doing this lesson with lots of sentences to translate. The goal is not that you won’t make mistakes anymore, after. The main goal is to raise your awareness  for the difference. Because once you really understand the distinction, you will start to “feel” it, develop an intuition for it.

So let’s paraphrase the distinctions again:

If before refers to something happening, then you need éier. And éier is always followed by the subject:

  • Éier mir an d’Bett ginn, liese mir gär. – Before we go to bed we like to read.
  • Éier ech fortfueren, ginn ech mam Hond eraus. – Before I leave, I go out with the dog.

Learning Tip

Memorise that whenever you want to say before I you’ll have to say éier ech in Luxembourgish.

Remark: 

You will hear some native speaker say ier instead of éier. I recommend to watch the video so to listen to the pronunciation of these 2 words.

If before refers to a noun, then you need virun:

  • Virum* Owesiessen kucken ech d’Noriichten. – Before dinner I watch the news.

*virun is a preposition which requires the dative case. Read more about this kind of prepositions and the contractions in this lesson !                                                  

And if before stands alone and refers to a prior sentence, or if they are combined with it/that, then use virdrun

  • Ech kommen den Owend. Mee, virdrun wëll ech eppes iessen. – I’ll come this evening. But before (that), I want to eat.

Aner Beispiller (other examples)

  • Ech drénke Kaffi, éier ech op d’Aarbecht ginn, – I have breakfast before I go to work.
  • Ech ginn op d’Aarbecht. Virdrun drénken ech Kaffi. –  I go to work. Before that I have breakfast.
  • Virun der Aarbecht drénken ech Kaffi. – Before work I have breakfast.

Watch this lesson on Youtube!

Exercise / Übung: 

Translate the following sentences into Luxembourgish:

  • Before Maria meditates she does yoga.
  • I want to drink a coffee before I start working.
  • I will call you, but before (that) I want to watch my favorite series.
  • My students are often nervous before the test.

Check the solution by downloading the PDF and practice  with MORE sentences to translate !

Get the PDF!

I hope you liked it and found it useful. And …. why not sharing this lesson with your friends:-)


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