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What sounds natural in the sentences below:

My friend asked me what was I up to these days. I said:

Nothing. Though I was a few days earlier.

And here:

I used to like this dish earlier but I don't like it anymore.

He told be earlier that he was going to leave. (Can any word replace "earlier" here?)

The carnival started a few months earlier..

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  • You have too many sentences to give a focused answer. Either reduce the number of possible words, or focus on just a single sentence. (There is no answer that can apply to all of them equally.) Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 16:40
  • @JasonBassford I've edited it.. Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 16:56
  • Earlier means "before the current time focus" (of events in a past tense narrative, for example). In a real-time conversational context, I saw him earlier means I saw him [some relatively short time] before now. You'll sometimes hear that "relative to now" usage qualified as, for example, You're looking for John? I saw him [a few minutes] earlier in the garden, but even a few minutes there isn't particularly common. And I don't think anyone would ever say This is my wife, who I married 10 years earlier, That's so far in the past it would always be 10 years ago. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 14:27
  • earlier relates to time so "like the dish earlier" would mean at noon you didn't like it but at 4 you did. Pretty silly, huh? [Though I was busy a few days earlier].
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 16:36

1 Answer 1

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I'm just going to address the first sentence.

Firstly, it would sound more natural to say a few days ago rather than a few days earlier when you're talking about time before the present. When you're telling a story about the past and you have to mention something that happened before that point in the past, then you have to use "earlier" instead.

Secondly, the content of the sentence doesn't make sense as an answer to the question "What are you up to?" It's not a yes-or-no question, so you can't just say "I am" or "I was"; you have to specify what you were up to (even if you were just up to "something.") So either of these could work:

"What are you up to these days?"

"Nothing. Though I was up to something a few days ago..."

or

"Are you up to anything these days?"

"No. Though I was a few days ago..."

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