Synonyms of 'earlier'
Earlier reports of gunshots have not been confirmed.
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You use before when you are talking about time. For example, if something happened the day before a particular date or event, it happened during the previous day.
The war had ended only a month or so before.
Former is used to describe someone who used to have a particular job, position, or role, but no longer has it.
He pleaded not guilty to murdering his former wife.
Thesaurus for earlier from the Collins English Thesaurus
Earlier is the comparative of → early .