“It’s already 4:30”
“It’s only 4:30”
“It’s already 4:30″
“It’s only 4:30″
Saying “already” communicates how fast the speaker believes time is going. When they checked his or her phone or clock, they were surprised, maybe even shocked about what they saw. They feel they’ve missed out on a large part of the day, like they’re only catching up to it and now they’ll be chasing the remaining hours.
The speaker who says “it’s only 4:30” believes it’s still early. They’re viewing the current time as a reminder of all that’s left in the day, of all the potential it still holds. They haven’t missed a thing; they’re just getting started.
They’re looking at the same time. They’re operating on the same socially-shared schedule, but in this instance, the difference of one word when referring to one point in the schedule leads to a totally different perception of that schedule.