√OPO root. “before of place, ahead, in front”
This primitive form was noted in the margins and rough notes from Late Notes on Verbs from 1969, glossed “before of place” (PE22/167) and “before, ahead, in front of place” (PE22/168). Primitive or Quenya forms opo/pō “before, in front of” and pōna/ompa “forward” appear in other late notes from this period associated with the Q. Ambidexters Sentence, as part of an explanation for Q. potai “therefore” (VT49/12), though this word was eventually revised to Q. epetai (VT49/8). Quenya or primitive forms opo, po, pono, poto “in front, of place” also appear in notes from the mid-1950s (VT49/32 note #12), and as suggested by Patrick H. Wynne might be a reemergence of the early root ᴱ√POT-I “after, behind (of place)” with a reversal in its meaning (QL/75). Other similar roots in the same semantic space are √APA and √EPE.
Neo-Eldarin: Tolkien’s treatment of “before” and “after” words was wildly inconsistent, but I generally prefer ✶epe for “after (of time); before (of space)” and ✶nō for its opposite. However, I think √APA and √OPO can serve as variants of √EPE, with √OPO more specifically referring to the front of things, especially given Tolkien’s use of √OP as a root referring to the front of the (open) mouth (PE17/126).
References ✧ PE22/167-168