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Tell me please if there is any difference in meaning between the following sentences.

In this class we are going to review everything we studied before.

In this class we are going to review everything we have studied before.

In this class we are going to review everything we studied earlier.

In this class we are going to review everything we have studied earlier.

  • Wouldn't it be better to have titles like "Correct verb tense for XXX" rather than all options in it? – krobelusmeetsyndra Feb 1 at 12:25
  • Actually I would like to know the difference – Dmytro O'Hope Feb 1 at 14:41
  • Because I am sure all sentences are correct, but I cannot see the difference. – Dmytro O'Hope Feb 1 at 14:44
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    There's no significant difference between earlier and before. However, using Past Simple or Present Perfect in your examples depends on a context. If you imply a definite time in the past then you use Past Simple, if not but just say in general then Present Perfect. – Anatolii Feb 4 at 13:12
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There is no significant difference in meaning between the four sentences. Before = on a previous occasion; earlier = at an earlier time (which might be earlier this week, this term or this year!)

The choice of tense (studied or have studied) is not significant in this context either.

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  • Could you please clarify why In this class we are going to review everything we studied earlier. is correct? Earlier doesn't relate to any specific time and it also connects the past with the present so Present Perfect sounds like a better option here. – Anatolii Feb 3 at 20:02
  • It's as acceptable as any of your other versions. Earlier just means 'at a time before now'. You are welcome to use the present perfect if that seems better to you. – Kate Bunting Feb 4 at 9:01
  • In that case, earlier must refer to a specific time in the past implicitly understood by the teacher and students (I assume it's a teacher talking to his/her class). So, there must be a proper context for using Past Simple with earlier/before. – Anatolii Feb 4 at 10:53
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Well , Im going to explain grammatically

When we use simple past we should mention an Exact time or priod not an unknown time ... But

In Every-Day English we Sometimes use it for unknown times

Therefore when a teacher says We're going to review what we studied , He probably means "What we studied in the last Sessions"

In the second sentence "... We have studied before" Teacher Means "What we have studied in the last few sessions"

Third : "... We studied earlier"

Teacher starts explaining a new subject then goes to subject 2 and then 3 .. in the last 10 minutes he/she says We're going to review what we studied earlier..

All of this happend in One Session

Number Four means exacty like Number 2

Though These explanations were based grammatical principles

In every-day english we dont have to obey rules therefore dont get confused and dont be a Detail-oriented , Most of fhe time we use things which are grammatically Incorrect but others will always Get the point

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    You are being over-prescriptive. Both before and earlier mean simply at a time previous to the present. The teacher might mean 'earlier in this lesson' , 'earlier this week' or 'earlier this term'. Also, it's nonsense to say that 'when we use simple past we should mention an exact time'. There is no such rule. – Kate Bunting Feb 1 at 13:27
  • Kate Bunting: Could you try to explain the difference for me. – Dmytro O'Hope Feb 1 at 14:46
  • @KateBunting - Well put; you should turn it into an answer. – TechnoCat Feb 1 at 14:52
  • As i said i explained "grammatically" @KateBunting , i hope you agree english cambridge dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/… and quora.com/How-do-I-use-before-earlier – MAB Feb 1 at 20:41
  • @KateBunting It's true that saying when we use simple past we should mention an exact time is wrong. However, when we use Past Simple, we either specify an exact time in the past or imply some specific time in the past. – Anatolii Feb 4 at 13:00
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The present perfect is used when the speaker has in mind or wishes to signal that the finished action or state occurred in some timeframe that has no terminal time boundary in relation to a main time period (now/time of speaking/in this class). The earlier/previous studying occurred in some timeframe (the semester/term of the course) which has not yet terminated, at least in some sense—or it’s not considered or not seen as important to specify.

We have studied it [e.g., earlier in the course/before this class in the course, with the course continuing at the time of speaking].

The past simple is used when the speaker has in mind or wishes to communicate that a finished event or state occurred in some timeframe which finished in the past—or it’s not considered or not seen as important to specify.

We studied it [in past classes, which have ended].

The “past simple-exact time” idea is only a sort of rule of thumb: a specific/precise time is sometimes specified, but this is not a reliable rule. It quickly breaks down under scrutiny: I was born in France. (No time or specific/exact time was specified, yet we must stretch to find narrow contexts in which the present perfect would be used here.)

The “connection to the present” notion likewise often makes little or no sense. *I was born in France” certainly has a connection to the present. I’m alive now. Any past thing we mention now has a connection ton the present: We’re mentioning it in the present!

American speakers of English more often interchange the two tenses, while British speakers of English face more strict pressures to make a choice and convey it via aspect.

Earlier and before have the same meaning in this context.

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