Confused words: soon and early
Many English learners use soon and early interchangeably. But are they real synonyms? Let’s clear things out.
Soon refers to something that is going to happen in the near future.
- Mummy will come soon.
- I will see you soon.
- I hope you get well soon.
We can see that soon in these sentences means in a short time from now. Mummy will come in a short time from now, I will see you in a short time, and I hope you will get well in a short time.
Remember not to use soon in the past tense. You cannot say “I saw you soon.”
Early means ‘before the expected time’.
- I came to the airport early.
- Will you please come early tomorrow?
- We are setting off early. Don’t be late.
Unlike soon, which refers to the future exclusively, early can be used in all tenses.
- Debora had an early breakfast this morning.
- You’ve come early.
- Can you bring it early tomorrow?
Sooner and earlier
The same as ‘soon’ and ‘early’, sooner can refer to the future only, while earlier goes with all tenses.
- I’ll do my best to come sooner/earlier, though I can’t promise you anything.
- Simon had an appointment at the dentist’s but he arrived earlier. (not sooner)
- I’ll try to finish the report earlier (not sooner) so we’ll be able to have lunch together.
Sooner or later
Meaning: used to say that something will happen eventually, in the near or distant future.
- They will find the thieves sooner or later.
- Sooner or later, we will have to start solving environmental issues more seriously.
The early bird catches the worm
Meaning: this expression refers to people who have an advantage because they start doing something earlier than others.
- I’ve got this job because I applied a month ago. You know what they say: “Early bird catches the worm.”
- We should get there earlier if we want to have a good deal. The early bird catches the worm.
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