Ago vs. Before


We use ago after an expression of time.

  • The train went out 10 minutes ago.

Ago indicates a finished time and is normally used with a past tense.

  • She telephoned five minutes ago. (NOT She has telephoned five minutes ago.)
The difference between ago and before

Ago is normally used with a simple past to count back from a present moment. Before is used with a past perfect to count back from a past moment.

  • I saw him two years ago. (Two years from now.)
  • I had seen him two years before I went to England.

Before can be used without a time expression to mean ‘any time before now/then’.

  • I think I have seen him before.