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yǐ qián
n. before, earlier times
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1. Referring to something happened in the past:
1a.以前 can be used alone by itself:
Example:.我以前做过销售经理。 [phr] I used to work as a sales manager.
1b.以前 can be used after a point/ a period of time
三点半以前 [phr] before 3 o'clock
三年以前 [phr] three years ago

2. Referring to something that is going to happen in the future:
以前 is used after a point of time
她妈妈不让她在十八岁以前与异性朋友交往。 [phr] Her mother didn't allow her to make male friends before eighteen.
在股市下周一再次开盘以前,这给了人们充足的时间平静下来。 [phr] Before the market opened up again on Monday, this gave people plenty of time to settle down.

It is worth the time to check out the usages of 从前, an adverb very similar to 以前.
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