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Beforehand vs. Advance: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 8, 2023
"Beforehand" refers to doing something ahead of time, while "advance" can mean moving forward or doing something in preparation.

Key Differences

"Beforehand" and "advance" both deal with the concept of time and preparation. "Beforehand" specifically refers to something done or prepared earlier than a specific point in time, emphasizing the completion of an action before a certain event. On the other hand, "advance" can suggest progression or development toward a point, but also encompasses actions taken in anticipation of a future event.
"Beforehand" implies a prior action, while "advance" may imply a forward movement or a preparatory stage. For instance, one might study beforehand for a test, ensuring they are ready by the time of the test. Alternatively, in advance of the test, one might arrange study materials, suggesting a preliminary step rather than the act of studying itself.
In usage, "beforehand" functions adverbially, modifying the verb to indicate when the action was completed. "Advance," however, can function as a noun, verb, or adjective, offering a broader range of application. You could receive an advance on your salary, where the term acts as a noun indicating something received ahead of time.
When it comes to planning, "beforehand" often conveys a sense of thoroughness and detail, hinting at comprehensive preparations. In contrast, "advance" suggests a more general state of readiness or progression, as in making advance arrangements, which may not be as detailed as preparations made beforehand.
"Beforehand" often carries a personal connotation, referring to actions taken by individuals or groups in anticipation. Conversely, "advance" can be more impersonal, relating to processes, events, or conditions developing or being carried out with a future aim in mind.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Can be a noun, verb, or adjective

Usage Context

Personal preparations or actions taken
General readiness or progression

Temporal Focus

Completed action prior to a specific time
Movement towards or preparation for a future event

Detail Implication

Suggests thorough, detailed preparation
May imply a broader or less detailed readiness


Modifies a verb to indicate prior completion
Indicates a state or act of moving forward or preparing

Beforehand and Advance Definitions


Acting or done before an event.
I packed my bags beforehand to avoid the rush.


A forward movement.
The advance of technology is rapid and constant.


Before an action or event; in advance.
Beforehand knowledge of the subject is not required for this course.


Payment before it is due.
He received an advance on his salary.


Prepared or arranged in advance.
Tickets must be purchased beforehand to secure a spot.


To move forward.
The troops will advance at dawn.


Prior to the present or specified time.
She had informed us beforehand that she would be late.


Development or improvement.
The new research marks a significant advance in cancer treatment.


Completed or done earlier than the set time.
We finished the project beforehand to enjoy the weekend freely.


To make a preliminary approach.
She decided to advance her ideas at the meeting.


In anticipation.


To cause to move forward
Advance a chess piece.


In advance; early.


To put forward; propose or suggest
Advanced a novel theory during the seminar.


At an earlier or preceding time.
Will it be possible to have access to the room beforehand so that we can set up chairs?
I love playing tennis but I always get so nervous beforehand.
Weeks beforehand, I had bought the tickets for the concert.


Can "beforehand" be used as a noun?

No, "beforehand" is an adverb, not a noun.

Can "beforehand" indicate the level of preparation?

Yes, "beforehand" often implies thorough preparation.

Is "advance" used in a military context?

Yes, "advance" can refer to forward movement in a military context.

Can "advance" be a verb?

Yes, "advance" can be used as a verb meaning to move forward.

Are "beforehand" and "advance" interchangeable?

Not always, as they have different uses and connotations.

Does "beforehand" modify the timing of an action?

Yes, "beforehand" modifies verbs to indicate actions taken earlier.

Does "advance" imply progression?

Yes, "advance" often implies progression or development.

Can "advance" describe technological growth?

Yes, it can describe growth or improvement in technology.

Is "beforehand" only used for past events?

No, it refers to actions taken before current or future events.

Is "advance" always related to time?

No, "advance" can relate to movement, progression, or early payment, not just time.

Is "beforehand" a modern English word?

Yes, it's used in contemporary English.

Is "beforehand" formal or informal?

"Beforehand" is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

Can "advance" be used to indicate time?

Indirectly, yes, when referring to events arranged before a set time.

Can "advance" be used in financial terms?

Yes, "advance" can mean a payment made before it's due.

Can "beforehand" be used in all tenses?

Yes, "beforehand" is tense-neutral and modifies actions regardless of tense.

Can "advance" refer to a promotion?

Yes, "advance" can refer to a promotion or upgrade in position.

Can "advance" be a strategic move?

Yes, it can refer to a calculated strategic move.

Can "advance" mean to elevate an idea?

Yes, "advance" can mean to propose or promote an idea.

Does "beforehand" suggest a personal action?

Typically, yes, it often refers to personal preparations.

Does "advance" imply a level of success?

It can, especially in terms of development or progression.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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