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, 2018 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, 2018 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


"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.
    – user230
    May 16, 2018 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, 2018 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".

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