Early, earlier, too soon... Please help me with these

@Arinker, @NearlyNapping, @Torsten, @Anglophile

Is it;

  • He arrived an hour early.
  • He arrived an hour earlier.

And is it also possible to say:

  • He arrived an hour too soon.

Thanks in advance.


All three are OK. The first two have different meanings.

He arrived an hour early.
This is a precise time. If he was due to arrive at 12:00, then this means he arrived at 11:00.

He arrived an hour too soon.
This means the same as an hour early, BUT it has a slight negative tone. Depending on the context, it can also mean there were negative consequences.

They were supposed to meet at the station, but he arrived an hour too soon and missed her.

He arrived an hour earlier.
This is comparative. He arrived an hour earlier [than sometime or someone].

A comparative always needs to be compared TO something. It does not need to be in the same sentence. If you say he arrived an hour earlier, if leaves the question open “Earlier than what?”. That needs to be answered somewhere.

He arrived earlier than Jane.

He was suppose to arrive in the afternoon, but he arrived earlier in the day.


@Masme, when you use the comparative degree, it implies that his arrival was earlier than the normal or than the expected or than the appointed time.


Thank you both for your answers.

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