Early/Soon

What’s the difference between early and soon?

Some languages only have one word for early and soon, which is why they are often mixed up in English. Read on to learn when to use early and when to use soon, then put your knowledge to the test in the free interactive exercises.

Example

It’s November and Christmas is coming soon.

This year I want to start my Christmas shopping early. Last year I did my shopping at the last minute.

I want to buy the presents as soon as possible, and as soon as they are wrapped I can send them to my family, who live abroad.

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Soon

Soon refers to the near future. It means not long from now or quickly.

Example:
It’s November now and Christmas will be here soon.

Use soon in these common expressions:

  • as soon as possible (ASAP) = as quickly as you can
Example:
I want to finish my Christmas shopping as soon as possible.
  • as soon as = at the same time or a directly after:
Example:
As soon as the presents are wrapped I can send them to my family, who live abroad.

Early

Early means before the usual or expected time, or at the beginning of a period of time.

Example:
I want to start my Christmas shopping early.

The expression at the earliest means that something will not happen before the specified date or time.

Example:
At the post office, they said that the presents would arrive on the 20th at the earliest.
The 20th is the first possible day that the presents will arrive, not before.