I noticed that this pattern is often used by English speaking Russians. How does it sound to a native English speaker? Usage example: "I could do that, but not earlier than in a month".

  • It's fine, although I would say "no earlier than in one month". Also sooner sounds a little better to me, "I could finish it, but it'll be no sooner than one month (from today)" – Andrew May 16 '18 at 17:14
  • More fluent would also be "...but not in less than a month." Earlier is usually used mean "before a specific point in time", and "a month" isn't a specific point, so earlier is a little awkward. – stangdon May 16 '18 at 20:16

"I could do that, but not earlier than in a month."

Most of the time, I think I would change the perspective, and get rid of the negative:

"I could do that, but it would take at least a month."

Otherwise, I might use sooner rather than earlier:

"I could do that, but no sooner than a month from now."

  • The OP's version doesn't seem ungrammatical to me, but I do like your versions much better. – snailplane May 16 '18 at 21:26
  • @snailboat - I agree with what you say about grammaticality. However, when the OP asked "How does it sound?" I assumed that meant "How natural does it sound?" and I tried to supply some more natural alternatives. – J.R. May 16 '18 at 21:39

It is unnatural, if not ungrammatical. "Earlier" is comparing to another time, but "in a month" is not a time, it's a property that a time could have. You can say "faster than in a month", or "earlier than a month from now".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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