Not quite correct definition for 先程

The definition for 先程 is ‘A while ago’ on WaniKani. I think this is wrong.
Normally when I hear 先程 being used, it’s used to mean ‘earlier’, the context being something that happened not too long ago.


I don’t see how that’s really that incorrect.

If I said: “I ate lunch a while ago” that doesn’t mean a long time ago it just means earlier.

Earlier, a while ago, and not too long ago are all synonymous.


I concur.

Jisho says it’s meanings can be “a short while ago; a moment ago; just now; some time ago​”


In general, the implication of ‘a while ago’ is that it was quite a ‘long’ time ago, not relatively recent.

Adding a ‘short’ there clarifies the time-frame.


That’s one way it’s used, but that’s not the only way.

Say somebody comes into my office and asks when I saw my colleague last, and they’ve been out of the office getting lunch, but I’m not sure how long, I’d say “a while ago”


For me, “a while ago” is typically a short time earlier. If it’s been longer than a short time, I might use the wording “it’s been a while”.

“He went to lunch a while ago.” = Not that long ago.

“It’s been a while since he went to lunch.” = More than has expected has elapsed.

Welcome to English everybody =D

'course, I haven’t reached 先程 and haven’t seen it in use, so I can’t comment on that aspect…


It’s probably cultural, part of the problem of having native speakers of a language spread over more than a dozen different countries.

To me, “I ate lunch a while ago” sounds like someone whose just been rescued after a week lost at sea without food, replying in a disarming manner to their rescuers’ questions.

“You must be starving.”
“Oh, well, I ate lunch a while ago…”

Whereas ‘earlier’ without a qualifier sounds like it was at least today.


For me it’s the same, in most cases I’ll understand periods of time containing while to be relatively long, with the only exception being a while ago:

It’s been like that for a while: It’s been like that for a relatively long period of time
It’s been a while: It’s been a long period of time
I did that a while ago: It hasn’t been that long since I did that

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Maybe so but that doesn’t reflect actual usage of the phrase “a while ago” which itself is ambiguous but most commonly in England we use it to mean earlier.

How much earlier? A couple of weeks to a couple of hours.

To refer to a longer period of time you’d probably hear “a while” rather than “a while ago”.

I haven’t eaten in a while versus I ate lunch a while ago.

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It is the same where I was raised. “A while ago” and “earlier” are 100% synonyms and can be used interchangeably. My first thought when I read the topic was “what’s the difference?”

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where i speak english we use “a while ago” pretty liberally.

Usually it means you’ve done something within a short time depending on the task.
“I ate lunch a while ago” would mean you ate lunch an hour or two ago to someone like me, but it would never mean you had lunch the day before or longer then that.

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See I get OP, because I would always qualify this as “a little while ago”.

Whereas “quite a while ago” would be a long time.

I don’t think you can say “most commonly” about British English :smiley:. How I use quite a lot of common words differs considerably from how my partner uses them, and she grew up all of 200 miles north of me.

My favourite is “closed”, which apparently means something like “shut and locked” where she’s from.

Anyway, the entry for 先程 it pretty terse and the example sentence uses “some time ago” which sounds even longer to me. Maybe ‘earlier’ could be added as a synonym, if that’s how it’s used.

Not really understanding people’s responses here. Yes, we tend to understand from context that ‘a while ago’ means not too long ago. But there’s no context here to allow the learner to understand that we shouldn’t take the meaning literally so surely the definition should be literal. It’s just confusing otherwise?


i think adding in words like “little” and “quite” can change the meaning a bit though

If you’re using a plain “a while ago” the meaning can change some, but given the context that a lot of japanese sites as well as some native english speakers understand that “a while ago” is a short period of time its not necessarily wrong. you might just have to think of the phrase slightly differently then what you thought it meant. when studying this work keep in mind that it means “a little while” and not “quite a while”


The problem is that 先程 can mean some time ago, not long ago, or just now.

Literally which do we use?

There’s another thread on here confused that 前 can mean both after and before. Temporal nouns largely have seemingly contradictory translations.

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I don’t necessarily think it’s just from context though. The full expression a while ago seems to usually be interpreted as earlier, unlike just a while which references a longer period if used alone.

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World War II happened a while ago.

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When I get there I’ll probably just add a synonym tbh, that seems the more logical thing to do.