25.4.2.1.2 Relative Adverbs Indicating Past Events


25.4.2.1.2.1 Bereits = already    
  Er hat es mir bereits gesagt. He has told me already.

25.4.2.1.2.2 Eben, soeben = just
  Er hat es mir gerade eben gesagt. He just told me.
  Er ist soeben zur Tür hereingekommen. He has just come through the door.

25.4.2.1.2.3 Vorhin = a minute ago    
  Vorhin wusste ich es noch. A minute ago I sill knew it.

25.4.2.1.2.4 Früher, damals * = then, in the past, in past times, ealier
  Damals (Früher) war alles besser. In the past everything was better.
  Früher (Damals) hatte er immer Geld. Then he always had money.
  Er kam früher, als wir dachten. He came earlier, than we thought.

* The difference between damals and früher is quite subtle and it is noticed only in certain cases. Damals in general is used when talking about a certain time in the past. Früher can mean whatever time before the point of speaking.

Example: a) Erinnerst du dich noch an jene Zeiten, als wir noch in Hamburg lebten?
                   Do you remember the times, when we were living in Hamburg?
               b) Ja, damals war ich glücklich.
                   Yes, I was very happy then.

In this case früher cannot be used, because it is a certain, well determined time. For better understanding we give another example.

These two questions do not mean the same.
  a) Wie haben die das damals nur gemacht? How did they manage in the past?
  b) Wie haben die das früher gemacht? How did they do it before now?

Phrase a) refers to a certain era (before the war, in the 30ies, when they were married). Phrase b) refers to an era at any time before now. And then there is früher in the meaning of earlier.