Early or soon?

Today we would like to share with you a brief remark on the difference between two terms that can cause endless confusion among English language students. Soon and early have similar meanings and they are both related to time, however if we look into them closely we will be able to tell the differences.

Soon means “in a short time from now”. We are all familiar with the expression “see you soon” to say goodbye.  It is very usual, when people are ill, to tell them “get well soon” in order to wish them a speedy recovery. Here you have a few more examples:

  • I will send you all the details you request soon
  • His new book is being released soon.

Soon can also refer to the past, i.e. “a short time after then”. For example:

  • I had a few problems driving the new car but I got used to it soon.
  • Early, on the other hand, means “before the prearranged, usual or the expected time”. See the following examples:
  • She woke up early in the morning, at 7.00 a.m.
  • The underground works started early this week.
  • He arrived 15 minutes too early.

Now, can you tell the difference? See the following two sentences:

  • You should go to school early
  • You should go to school soon

In the first sentence, we are requesting someone to go to school before the appointed time, whereas in the second example we are requesting them to go in a short time from now.

Finally, bear in mind that early can be used as an adjective, It can be a synonym for initial, prompt, speedy or primitive: Early geneticists had countless problems to request funds for research.

Now, try with the following exercises:

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