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Before - 'sula/sular' or 'roimh'?

easy grammar tips

There are two words for ‘before’ in the Irish language, but how do you know which one to use?

Here’s the golden rule:

Use ‘sula / sular’ before verbs, and use ‘roimh’ before nouns.

Yep, it’s that simple.


Here are a few examples using ‘roimh’:

Beidh siad anseo roimh am lóin.

They will be here before lunchtime.

Tagann sí ar cuairt gach bliain roimh an Nollaig.

She comes on a visit every year before Christmas.

Níor ith sé mórán roimh a dhinnéar.

He didn’t eat much before his dinner.


Sula / sular

And a few examples using sula /sular…

These are used before verbs.

Bí cinnte faoi sula ndéanfaidh tú cinneadh

Be sure about it before you make a decision

D’ól sé cupán tae sular* ghlan sé an chistin

He drank a cup of tea before he cleaned the kitchen.

Thóg sé an t-airgead sula ndearna sé an obair

He took the money before he did the work.

Chríochnaigh mé mo chuid oibre sula ndeachaigh mé abhaile.

I finished my work before I went home.

(Aside - use ‘sular’ in the past tense, apart from before 6 of the 11 irregular verbs in the past - ‘déan’ and 'téigh' being two of those six: sula ndearna mé é (before I did it); sula ndeachaigh mé abhaile (before I went home).