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At What is suffix 方 used for (when attached to a た-verb)?, I wrote that the 早く there means "early":

早く行った方が良かったでしょう。
It would have been better if (you) had gone early, would it not?

But I'm wondering whether that was correct. In the case of e.g.

早く行ったほうがいいよ。

How can you tell if it means "it'd be better if you go quickly", "it'd be better if you go early" or "it'd be better if you go soon"?

If the answer is "by context", if possible please give examples of contexts where one or the other is the case.

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I wonder if "it'd be better if you go quickly" has the same nuance to "it'd be better if you hurry" in English. –  Teno Oct 2 '12 at 1:15
    
@Teno hmm I don't know...but I think that "hurry" might imply a greater sense of urgency than "go quickly", and "go quickly" might also be more formal. –  cypher Oct 2 '12 at 1:33
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If they don't have singificant differences, you may say 急いでいったほうがいいよ for - go quickly. For - go soon, すぐに行ったほうがいいよ would be used. –  Teno Oct 2 '12 at 1:56
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2 Answers

If the answer is "by context", if possible please give examples of contexts where one or the other is the case.

Well, isn't it obvious? You want to do a distinction in English, so just find contexts in English, and that will be it!

  1. Quickly: If you say "the last train will leave in 5 minutes, and I'm three blocks away from the station. When should I leave?" (Although, I'd use a real "quickly" adverb, like 急いで)

  2. Early: If you say "my plane leaves tomorrow at 7am. When should I take the train?"

  3. Soon: If you say "Aeroplane tickets for Japan are cheap now. When should I go to Japan?"

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速く走れば早く着くよ。 You can arrive earlier if you run faster.

速い is clearly more related with speed than time , 早い ’s point is its position on the time frame.

although 早く demands you some quickness, it is because speed is the way to achieve earlier result.

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