2 minutes ago is equivalent to a little bit earlier

zhonglin

Senior Member
Mandarin
Hi,

Good day! I need some advice as to whether "2 minutes ago" can be replaced with "a little bit earlier"?

I was just talking to him 2 minutes ago
I was just talking to him a little bit earlier

Please advise, thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would say, "No, it can't." Two minutes ago is too short a time to be described like that.

    To me, "I was just talking to him a little bit earlier" is at least 20 minutes ago and could be up to about 4 hours.

    If it were only 2 minutes, I would say, "I was just talking to him a second ago." or "I was just talking to him just now." or I was just talking to him a moment ago."

    Before you as for more precision, please understand that all such phrases are very subjective and they do not indicate a precise time, nor do they even attempt to convey more than a general idea.
     

    0hisa2me

    Senior Member
    British English
    The idea of 'a little bit earlier' is obviously relative, so it can't be defined precisely, but in my experience it is very unusual to say 'a little bit earlier' when speaking about something that happened only two minutes before. You might then ask after how many minutes it is possible to speak about 'a little bit earlier'. I would say that it's about the same as for the number of grains of sand that make a heap.
     

    creativewriter

    New Member
    Nederlands, Nederland
    Hi, i suppose you could, but i personally would say "I was talking to him just now" or maybe "I just spoke to him before"
    But maybe you should wait till the native English speakers react, i am just going by my intuition here.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I was just talking to him 2 minutes ago
    I was just talking to him a little bit earlier
    Note that both sentences are redundant. "Just" is unneeded.

    In both cases, "just" means "a short time ago.

    WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015

    just1 /dʒʌst/adv.


    1. within a brief preceding time;
    2. only a moment before
    3. at this moment:
     

    zhonglin

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Hi,

    Thank you for all your advice, I'm surprised to know that it's not usual to say "a little bit earlier" when speaking about something that happened only two minutes before.
    I thought "a little bit" would make "earlier" very short but that's not the case, does that mean "earlier" is shorter time than "
    a little bit earlier"? I'm sorry but I'm little confused
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    ... does that mean "earlier" is shorter time than "a little bit earlier"? I'm sorry but I'm little confused
    I am not surprised you are confused. A little earlier, a bit earlier and a little bit earlier are relative comparative phrases that mean "a small period of time ago."

    It might be simpler if you use them only in this sense:

    A: "I spoke to Henry earlier [than I am speaking to you now] and he told me not to buy any food."
    B: "That is strange, I spoke to Henry a little bit earlier [than you did], and he said he wanted food." i.e. B spoke to Henry before A spoke to him.
     
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