before < anyone / nobody > noticed

Furkanenglish

Member
Turkish-Turkey
I was glad that I had seen and rectified my mistake "before anyone noticed". Or "before nobody noticed"
 
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  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Before "nobody noticed" is itself negative meaning the the action didn't take place. How could you have done something before an action that didn't tale place? You can do something only before something that happens.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Looked at from a diffrerent angle:

    "I was glad that I had seen and rectified my mistake before nobody noticed"

    means:

    "If I left the mistake there, nobody would notice it. Nobody would complain. It would cause no problems. That worried me, so I rectified it".

    That doesn't make much sense. You rectified it because you thought that at least 1 person would notice the mistake. The opposite of "at least 1 person" is "nobody".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you say 'before <something>', that <something> has to be an event or happening of some kind.

    The period 'before anyone noticed' begins when the mistake is made and would end when anyone notices the mistake.

    'Before nobody noticed' just does not make sense because 'nobody noticed' is not an event or happening.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I was glad that I had seen and rectified my mistake "before anyone noticed". Or "before nobody noticed"
    Here meaning is that nobody noticed it
    Some other sentences that would be correct:
    > Nobody noticed my mistake before I was able to rectify it.
    > I saw and rectified my mistake while nobody was noticing it.
    > I saw and rectified my mistake, and nobody ever noticed it.

    Now look at your original: "I was glad that I had seen and rectified my mistake before [a thing happened]."

    Before trying the 2 endings, list what the sentence already says (in English, your sentence means these things)
    1. You fixed the mistake before the thing happened.
    2. By that action you prevented the thing from happening.
    3. So the thing did not happen.
    4. You are glad the thing did not happen, so it is a bad thing

    Now we need to test the two sentence endings, and see if each can be the thing in this sentence:

    "anyone noticed the mistake" - yes: that is bad, and it did not happen, and you prevented it

    "nobody noticed the mistake" - no: that is not bad, and it DID happen
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Before "nobody noticed" is itself negative meaning the the action didn't take place. How could you have done something before an action that didn't tale place? You can do something only before something that happens.
    I think this may be the issue. Nobody in fact ever noticed the mistake: so why do we say "someone noticed". How is it possible to locate an action in time before a non-existent event? I suspect that the point is that "before" has a special unusual meaning here, synonymous with "lest".
     
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