Early This Morning or Earlier This Morning? What’s the Difference?

In English, there are plenty of ways to refer to times happening earlier in the day. Two ways you can refer to early times are as follows: early this morning, and earlier this morning. Which one is correct, and how do you use them?

Early this morning and earlier this morning are similar phrases that differ because early this morning is absolute while earlier this morning is comparative. How each expression is used depends on the context and tone of the speaker. 

What Early This Morning Means

Early this morning is a phrase used to refer to the early morning. You can say this phrase during the morning, or later in the day. Early is an absolute term. Using this definition, the early is referring to the early parts of the day (morning). “Early this Morning” usually means between 5am and 9am.

Another thing to keep in mind is that “early this morning” refers to an event happening early in the morning on a certain day. When using the phrase, you have to be referring to an event that happened on the same day: not two days ago, or two days ahead. It has to be in the present.

Here are a few sentences with “early this morning”:

“I woke up early this morning.”

“Willow got breakfast early this morning.”

What Earlier This Morning Means

Earlier this morning is a phrase used to refer to something occurring earlier in the morning. It’s more comparative because “earlier” is different for everyone, and earlier this morning is used to compare the current time to the “earlier” time. “Earlier this Morning” can mean any time in the morning(5am- 1159am) if you say it after the morning has finished. If the morning is still happening, then it is earlier than the current time. 

To break this down more simply, “earlier this morning” is a term that, like “early this morning”, refers to an event happening on the same day the phrase is spoken. For the most part, “early this morning” and “earlier this morning” have near identical meanings.

The only difference is that early this morning refers directly to the morning, and earlier this morning refers to a general time in the morning.

Here are some sentences with earlier this morning:

“Earlier this morning, I bought a kitten.”

“I went for a swim earlier this morning.”