Someone told me this a while ago, but I always remember it cause I couldn't quite understand.

Does the "earlier" in the sentence "1 year ago, maybe earlier." means that it was prior to 1 year ago (meaning it could be even 10 years) or does it mean it's less than 1 year (like 5 months ago)?


  • The first. If you want to say less than 1 year ago, that could be "1 year ago, maybe sooner" or "more recently" or "less." Aug 20, 2019 at 17:27
  • In either case, earlier and sooner are both comparatives, so the rest of the comparative apparatus is also available. In particular, earlier means earlier than some time already mentioned (in this case, a while ago). Aug 20, 2019 at 18:56
  • Thank you very much to everyone, it feels much more clear to me now! I appreciate it!
    – Holly
    Aug 20, 2019 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


Earlier means "occurring before [that is, farther in the past than, or less far into the future than] a specified time or event". So if the specified time is "a year ago", earlier than that can only mean "a time farther in the past than a year ago", whether that ends up being one year and a day, or eleven years, or two centuries.


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