EARLIEST vs. SOONEST
Used as a superlative adjective to mean “most distant in time.”
These are the earliest examples of the artist’s works.
Used as a superlative adverb to mean “most promptly.”
(not commonly used)
PERCENT vs. PERCENTAGE
Used after a number.
Fifty percent of the people voted for the initiative.
Not used after a number.
The percentage of people who approve of the initiative has been steadily growing.
AFTER vs. AFTERWARDS
Used as a preposition before a noun or as an adverb clause marker before a clause.
We’ll go to dinner after the play.
Used as an adverb, means “after that.”
First, we went to a movie and afterwards we went to dinner.
AGO vs. BEFORE
Used to talk about a time earlier than the present.
Harold won a gold medal in the Olympics a year ago.
Used to talk about a time earlier than some other point in time.
And four years before that, he won a silver medal.