17.5.4 davanti = before

The main problem with davanti is that it can be confused with avanti. Used as a preposition there is no problem, in this case davanti corresponds to in front of.

Trovando il portone aperto, ho parcheggiato davanti alla porta di casa.
  Because the gate was open, I parked directly in front of the house.
  Siamo davanti alla chiesa.
  We are in front of the church.

But as an adverb davanti is a pronominal adverb and should not be confused with the simple adverb avanti. Davanti (used as a pronominal adverb) is relative, refers to something, something is in front of something that is not mentioned. Avanti is absolute, is not relative to something, correspond to the English ahead (andiamo avanti => Let' s go ahead).

davanti = relative to something
I posti migliori sono quelli che si trovano davanti.
  The best seats are those that are in front.
  Lui andava davanti e gli altri lo seguivano.
  He walked at the head and the others followed him.
  Mettiti davanti.
  Stand in front of it.
avanti = absolute
  Siamo andati avanti così rapidamente in tutti questi anni che ora dobbiamo sostare un attimo per consentire alle nostre anime di raggiungerci.
  We proceeded so fast in recent years, that we have to pause for a moment to allow our souls to reach us.
  Se fino ad ora abbiamo tirato avanti, adesso percepiamo chiaramente quella sensazione di provvisorietà che alla lunga stanca e porta alla rassegnazione.
  Even if we scratched along until now we perceive clearly the insecurity of our situation and in the long run that is something tiring and leads to resignation.

It is crucial to see that davanti is a pronominal adverb, the seats are in front of something not mentionend and he walks at the head of other people. Davanti describes a relationship of something relative to something else. Avanti is absolute and does not establish a relationship between two things.





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