arrived in front of

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arrived in front of

Post by navi » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:06 am

1) She arrived in front of me.

Can't this sentence mean two things:
a) She came up to me. She reached a position that was in front of me.
b) She arrived ahead of me. She arrived before me.

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: arrived in front of

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:48 am

Yes.

The construction "in front of" can describe both spatial and temporal relationships.

Context generally clarifies which is meant.
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Re: arrived in front of

Post by tony h » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:42 am

Erik_Kowal wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:48 am
Yes.

The construction "in front of" can describe both spatial and temporal relationships.

Context generally clarifies which is meant.
Erik, would you concur with the view that "arrived in front" seems an unnatural combination?
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: arrived in front of

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:14 pm

Compare the alternative constructions in the sentence below, which are similarly applicable in both spatial and temporal contexts:

"I had set off for the conference two hours before her, but was delayed by extensive roadworks on the motorway. So she arrived {ahead of me / in front of me / before me}". I think "arrived in front of" is fine here.

On the other hand, "I had set off for the conference two hours in front of her" sounds less natural than "I had set off for the conference two hours {ahead of / before} her". I'm not sure why that is: all I can say is that I can't think of a situation that I would be likely to describe in this way.
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Re: arrived in front of

Post by tony h » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:20 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:14 pm
"I had set off for the conference two hours before her, but was delayed by extensive roadworks on the motorway. So she arrived {ahead of me / in front of me / before me}". I think "arrived in front of" is fine here.
I agree with you in the use of "ahead" and "before" but still struggle with "in front". "was/is in front of me", works just fine.
Erik_Kowal wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:14 pm
On the other hand, "I had set off for the conference two hours in front of her" sounds less natural than ...
Interestingly, if the event is a race rather than a conference, it seems to work. "After a very successful 2nd and 3rd stage I set off two hours ahead of her. A useful lead but there was still a long way to go."
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Re: arrived in front of

Post by trolley » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:11 am

Interestingly, if the event is a race rather than a conference, it seems to work. "After a very successful 2nd and 3rd stage I set off two hours ahead of her. A useful lead but there was still a long way to go."
In the end, she crossed the finish line in front of me.
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Re: arrived in front of

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:17 am

I think the reason it works better with a race than a conference is that to cross the finish line in front of someone else means preceding them in both time and space, hence invoking both connotations in the mind of the hearer or reader. Trolley's specimen sentence illustrates this quite well.
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