the slightest thing about the 24 hours *beforehand*

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Where you were when the earthquake hit, when Kennedy was shot, on 9/11. Each detail of such life-changing events is etched forever in your mind, even though you may not recall the slightest thing about the 24 hours beforehand.
(Scientific American Mind; Stressed-Out Memories; Volume 14 Number 5)

I want to 'do away' with "beforehand" here.

Can I convey the same idea in the following way:
"... you may not recall the slightest thing about the previous 24 hours."

(I would like to hear your suggestions about this particular thought being expressed without the word 'beforehand')

Thanks.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Yes, and I think it's better. :thumbsup: beforehand is post-positional - this is always a little awkward in English.
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would normally take "previous" to refer to a singular subject, so "previous day" would be fine, but I think "preceding twenty-four hours" would be preferable.

    I don't see why you should have any ethical or semantic objection to "beforehand". Since the blending of Anglo-Saxon with Norman French, many concepts have been preserved in parallel pairings. Often the Old English word is better liked by unschooled folk; frequently the synonym of Latin, Greek or Romance origin is preferred for educated or sophisticated purposes.
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Hmm.. the BNC shows no entries for "preceding twenty-four/24 hours" and six for "previous twenty-four/24 hours"

    The mix of plural and singular nouns following "the previous" and "the preceding" gives no significant difference.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Like DocPenfro, I think that "the preceding 24 hours" is the preferable phrase in this context.

    Added: The problem with "beforehand" is that it doesn't mean "occurring just before"; it means in anticipation or in advance. Example: When you're planning to roast a chicken, heat up your oven beforehand.
     
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    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    On reflection, I'm not sure that I can establish any real difference between "previous" and "preceding", but I'm glad that Parla is sympathetic to my cause, even if the BNC isn't (BNC is a collection of real-world use: not necessarily guaranteed to be pedantically accurate).
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The expression 'the day before' is equivalent in meaning to 'the day before the one in question', but it is not equivalent grammatically.
    In the former case, 'before' is an adverb, not a preposition. It is an independent phrase, not an abbreviation.
    It is closer to the expression 'the day prior': closer still to 'the day ahead'.
     
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    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I believe in fact it should be seen as modifying an understood verb, such as 'came', meaning, for example, 'the day [which came] before'. This contradicts my earlier assertion that there is no abbreviation here.
    Other similar expressions: 'the sky above', 'the earth below', 'the man over there'.

    Here is a website seeing it as adverb:
    I delivered the assignment the day before (before used as an adverb)
    http://depts.washington.edu/wbt401/Grammar/partsofspeech.htm
     
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