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

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.


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.

  • 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
  • 1
    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

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.


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?"

  • I dont' think is that obvious, for example if you said "とつぜん眠くなったから早く寝ないとだめです。" The english translation can be "I must go to bed quickly because I became suddenly sleepy" or "I must go to bed early because I became suddenly sleepy" isn't it ?
    – Poulp
    Mar 17 at 12:59
  • 1
    Can't be "early" in your example because nothing says it's early when you're tired. It could very well be 4am or 2pm. "Quickly" implies (for me) that you need to hasten, which may or may not be implied by the overall context; if you are driving, then yes, I'd say "quickly" because if you don't stop driving ASAP, people may die. If you're watching a movie in the living room, then I'd say "soon".
    – Axioplase
    Mar 18 at 13:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.