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  1. banderas's Avatar
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    #1

    Earlier vs. before

    Are they always interchangeable? When are they not?


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    #2

    Re: Earlier vs. before

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    Are they always interchangeable? When are they not?
    Early may function either as an adj or an adv. (Earlier is the comparative degree form)

    Before functions as a preposition, as a conjunction or an adverb.

    As you can see they overlap only when used as an adverb.
    e.g. Why didn't you come earlier / before?

    But: Can we meet at an earlier hour? (adj)
    Can we meet before lunch? (preposition)
    Can we meet before you leave for London? (conjunction)


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    #3

    Re: Earlier vs. before

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    Are they always interchangeable? When are they not?
    before: preposition adverb, conjunction
    earlier: adverb, adj

    I met her before Christmas. -- before Christmas = time adverbial, before = preposition
    I met her earlier Christmas. --

    Before I met her, I did not know her. -- before = conjunction; the temporal clause modifies the whole main clause
    Earlier I met her... --

    I never saw her before. -- before = adverb, modifying 'saw'
    I never saw her earlier. -- earlier = adverb

    In earlier times -- earlier = adjective, modifying times
    In before times --

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Earlier vs. before

    I never saw her before. -- before = adverb, modifying 'saw'
    I never saw her earlier. -- earlier = adverb. Earlier than what?

  3. engee30's Avatar
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    #5

    Cool Re: Earlier vs. before

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    e.g. Why didn't you come earlier / before?
    That question (with earlier) can well be interpreted as:
    • 1. Why did you come late? or Why did you come only minutes before the meeting? etc.

    • 2. Why was it the first time you had come there? or Why had you never come there before?


    With before, it's only option 2 that is possible.


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    #6

    Re: Earlier vs. before

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post


    That question (with earlier) can well be interpreted as:
    • 1. Why did you come late? or Why did you come only minutes before the meeting? etc.

    • 2. Why was it the first time you had come there? or Why had you never come there before?


    With before, it's only option 2 that is possible.

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