Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I met this girl at an early party.

What meaning does this "early" have?

share|improve this question

closed as unclear what you're asking by tchrist, medica, user4215, choster, TimLymington Feb 18 at 18:51

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is not a great usage of the word early. I have to agree with @pavja2 on this one. I wanted to add some more information that was too long for a comment. (i.e. don't accept this answer which is fundamentally the same, and only up vote if you first up vote that of pavja2)

Unless you are speaking of a party season, such as the debutante ball season, there would be very little reason to use the term early to describe a party.

Again as pavja2 says, earlier would be a better usage. But, I would in fact change the phrasing: I met this girl at a party earlier today. The connotation is slightly different, but, I don't think people would typically refer to an "earlier party." Grammatically correct, yes, but awkward on the tongue.

share|improve this answer
1  
@username901345 This works for lunch because there is a usual time for lunch. There is not, to my knowledge, a usual party time. Hence, you would say earlier, and not early. –  David M Feb 18 at 4:35
1  
@username901345 Not at all. My children have birthday parties that take place around 10 AM with great frequency. –  David M Feb 18 at 4:53
    
@username901345 Two things. One, please don't delete your comments. The discussion is helpful for those reading the questions. Second, my answer was fundamentally similar to that of Pavja2. He deserves the accepted answer, not me. –  David M Feb 18 at 4:59
    
Per my comment to Epicentre's (correct, imho) answer, I think both you and pavja2 are rather missing the point by assuming OP's citation is probably an inappropriate usage or contrived context. An early party can be a natural way of indicating one of two recognisable characteristics. 1: a party that doesn't go on very late, or 2: an (often, small, and/or with "sit-down food") party before going on to a bigger late-night bash. In both cases "meeting a girl" could well be more "intimate/one-on-one" than in a big riotous gathering where many people don't know each other. –  FumbleFingers Feb 18 at 18:16

The sentence would only be correct in a few rather contrived circumstances. For example, if you had been to several parties throughout the day (so many that you lost count) you could say that you met the girl at one of the early parties (as opposed to one of the late ones) and this sentence might be used to mean that. Generally what you are going to want to say is probably more like "I met this girl at an earlier party (and now she's here too!)."

share|improve this answer

I interpreted this as the opposite of an after party - i.e. a pre-party get together for people to "get in the mood" (i.e. drink, smoke or whatever) for the main party.

share|improve this answer
    
I think this is the only answer that makes sense if we assume OP has reasonable knowledge of idiomatic English (which seems credible in light of his earlier questions). I honestly don't think David's early in the "party season" interpretation would occur often enough to bother mentioning, but many young people in the UK today go to an early party (often, a small affair with just close friends) because they can't afford to do what we did in my day - go to the pub. The trick being to leave the pub before closing time, if you had any respect for the people hosting the "main event". –  FumbleFingers Feb 18 at 18:06
    
@fumblefingers Herein lies the problem with language commentary. In American English "early party" just sounds oddly forced. Perhaps it is dialectically acceptable in BE, but sounds at best odd in AE. –  David M Feb 18 at 18:52
    
@David: As luck would have it, the only result I found in Google Books for go to an early party was that one from Lady Gaga's "biographer". You can't get much more American than that, surely? I'm not saying the collocation is "common, well-established", but we don't have to assume every "looks a bit like a non-native speaker's mistake" really is a mistake. English allows a very wide range of "uncommon, but okay" usages. –  FumbleFingers Feb 18 at 19:17
    
@Fumblefingers We Americans of Substance (AOS) officially denounce Lady Gaga, all of her works, and those associated with her! We also call into question her peerage! We Americans dispensed with peerage in 1776, and it unclear by what standard she was granted the title of Lady! As a dear friend and mentor used to say: a lady is a pattern of behavior, a woman is a gender. I would certainly call the former into question, the latter having been confirmed in an unfortunate series of nude photographs! –  David M Feb 18 at 19:22
    
@David: oic. Basically you're saying she's a slut (in both senses: she has loose sexual morals and she allows/encourages her acolytes/courtiers to be untidy and sloppy with their use of English). I don't know too much about Lady Gaga, but I'd turn Alison Goldfrapp up and switch her on any day of the week. Great band, great music, great body. (And she's British! :) –  FumbleFingers Feb 18 at 19:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.