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use of “prior” in space vs. time

It grates every time I hear a local radio traffic reporter say “there is an accident just prior to the Erindale Rd turn-off.” 

I believe I’m right in thinking the word ‘prior’ is more correctly used in a time context, meaning earlier than or sooner than. 

Thoughts?

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As I think prior' is an adjective of priority which is used in the context of time for example ....you must have prior experience in doing that task.....

Anshul wrally December 16, 2016, 6:17am

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To report “there is an accident just prior to the Erindale Rd turn-off” is correct from the perspective of the listener, who judges distances in time as well as linear distance. A driver thinks in terms of duration between landmarks, and may be as likely to consider an exit 2 miles away as 2 minutes away.

Grammar Mammal January 9, 2017, 6:34pm

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"Just prior" is bad English regardless of its reference to time or space. English is supposed to be communicative. "Just" anything communicates "only." For example "just $10" means only $10. But, "just prior" means nothing because "prior" is not a point of reference. "Just prior to the turn-off" could mean one mile, ten miles, . . . before the turn-off. Correct English would be "half mile before the exit," or "one minute before the exit if you are traveling at 55MPH." 11/20/2016.

Lawpilot November 20, 2016, 1:17pm

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Lawpilot, you have addressed the usage of "just" rather than the point of the post which was "prior"
I also happen to disagree - just prior in the context of a traffic report would clearly mean within 20 to 100 metres. Just does not always mean only - have you ever used "just missed" or "just leaving now"?

SpeakEnglandverydelicious November 21, 2016, 3:16am

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I wonder if said reporter would use the sentence "When in the passport arrivals queue, it is required to wait prior to the white line"?

SpeakEnglandverydelicious December 22, 2016, 7:40pm

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