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Hi teachers,

Could you possibly help me understand the use of early in the sentences below?:

a/Early in the morning we went there to meet them
Can I say 'in the early morning' to replace 'early in the morning' without changing its meaning?
b/Early in 1999, he was appointed to the command of Mediterranean squadron.
Can I say 'in early 1999' to replace 'early in 1999' without changing its meaning?

Thank you in advance
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I would say you can make these replacements without changing the meanings. - A.
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It doesn't work nearly as well for "late" as it does for "early."

a. He was killed late in May sounds a bit like he was supposed to have been killed earlier, like in March or April.

b. "Late in the morning" just doesn't sound natural to my ears.

c. Absolutely not! I can say on January 1 that something will happen "later this year" and mean February 1, while "late this year" means in the last part of the year - no earlier than October, I'd say.
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Comments  
Thank you Avangi,

By the way, is it also true of late?

a/Is "He was killed late in May" the same as "he was killed in late May"?

b/Can I say"Late in the morning / In the late morning we went there to meet them"?

c/ Is " Canada will ban smoking in all offices later this year." the same as "Canada will ban smoking in all offices late this year."?

Best regards
 BarbaraPA's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thank you Grammar Geek,
Could you possibly tell me when the banning is carried out in " Canada will ban smoking in all offices later this year" if it is not carried out near the end of this year?

Best wishes
Hi, Van,
It could be anytime between the issuing if the statement and the end of the calendar year. As GG said, if the statement is made in late January, the ban could go into effect at any time during the next eleven months.

- A.