up front vs beforehand vs in advance

GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello and Merry Christmas,
I read the previous thread, but I am still a little confused. In the sentence "You have to book your tickets in advance/beforehand", what is the difference between the two? "She wants half her fee up front". Okay, but would it be wrong if I said "She wants half her fee in advance/beforehand"? It doesn't sound that bad to me. What is actually the difference between "up front" and the others? They look very, very similar to me :S. When we talk about finances and payments do we have to use "up front" all the time? While reading the previous thread I came across this example "You should have told be beforehand that you don't like spicy food". Why not in advance? It makes sense to me. Could you please help me on this one, dear native speakers?


Thank you very much and have a wonderful Christmas
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi GandalfMB, I would say these three expressions are almost interchangeable. I think the difference is this, but these are only my thoughts, I haven't been able to find a reference in a grammar book or dictionary:

    'Up front' is informal, but is still used in the sort of written context you give, and I would say it is interchangeable with 'in advance', and it means before some kind of scheduled process, point in time, or agreement for something to take place. 'Beforehand' can also be used in the same context - before a scheduled point in time, before the arranged or agreed start of something.
    However, 'beforehand' or just 'before' can also mean 'at some stage earlier than now', or before something happened that was just a random event, it wasn't planned or scheduled. 'Up front' and 'in advance' aren't used in this latter sense.

    She wants half her fee up front / in advance / beforehand - before the (agreed or scheduled) start of her task.
    The course fees must be paid up front / in advance / beforehand - before the (scheduled) start of the course.
    The visa application fee is payable up front / in advance / beforehand - before the visa has been issued.

    You should have told me before(hand) that you don't like spicy food - before now, or before the time I served the food (but the food was not served at any planned or arranged time, it was an event that happened at random).

    So the essential point is: before what? Before now or a non-planned event that just happened, or before some agreed or scheduled point in time?

    So as you can deduce, if you're not sure, use 'beforehand' and you can't go wrong! (I hope ;).)
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Your explanation is more than just brilliant :O. Thank you very much. You should have told me that you don't like spicy food beforehand. It is not scheduled, he should have told her at some stage earlier than now, is that correct? I think that in advance might work as well, or not? It might bend the rules a little, but don't we bend them all the time? When we talk about scheduled events we can use all three of them, when we do not, beforehand is the best choice :).
    Thank you again
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Yes, actually "in advance" would be ok too in "you should have told me in advance that you don't like spicy food", but I think it assumes that the person who doesn't like spicy food knew that he was going somewhere where food would be served (so it was a scheduled, not a random, event), but he just didn't know that the food would be spicy.

    As you have concluded, 'beforehand' is a safe bet for any eventuality.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    If you are invited to dinner, it is an arranged event and you expect that food will be served. So 'in advance' is ok. (In my example in post 2, I was assuming that the person who was served spicy food didn't actually come to an invited meal. Maybe he was a guest at the house, and at the random mealtime, spicy food was served. But the mealtime itself was not an arranged event. It's something that normally happens every day.)
     
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