A little too late

deepuips

Senior Member
Please tell me what is the difference between the following sentences

1. He celebrated a little early.

2. He celebrated a little too early.

And

3. It is a little late to do that thing.

4. It is a little too late to do that thing.

Thank you.
 
  • Jason_2_toi

    Senior Member
    English-Scotland
    In my opinion this is not so much about English as about, let's say, logic.

    The 1st is a plain statement of fact. His birthday was Monday but he started celebrating on Sunday evening.

    The 2nd is in some sense judgmental. There is a consequence to his action.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is a question about English.

    He celebrated a little early. His celebration started a short time before it was expected to start.
    Jason_2_toi's suggestion: His birthday was Monday but he started celebrating on Sunday evening.
    He celebrated a little too early. His celebration started a short time before it should have started.
    He started his celebration before the guest of honour had arrived.
    or
    He started celebrating his team's victory before the match ended and before the other side's captain hit a six off the last ball.
     

    Shoorveeryoddha

    Member
    India-Hindi
    • Andygc, I didn't understand your explanation. Could you please explain to me in simpler terms? I don't understand the difference betweenshort time before it was expected to start and short time before it should have started.
    Thank you
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Let's try a different verb.
    The man has an appointment for an interview at 10:00. He arrives at 09:00.

    "He arrived early for his appointment." Does it matter? Not much, he can call in at the reception desk, then go for a coffee or sit in the waiting room reading a book.

    "He arrived too early for his appointment." Does it matter? Yes. The reception desk doesn't open until 09:30, the coffee shop is closed and he can't get into the waiting room.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    She arrived at the airport a little late but was still able to catch her plane.

    She arrived at the airport too late to catch her plane.

    She arrived at the airport a little too late to catch her plane (eg the gate closed a few minutes before she reached it).

    She arrived at the airport much too late to catch her plane (eg the plane had already taken off).
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    3. It is a little late to do that thing.

    4. It is a little too late to do that thing.

    It's a little late to apologise, but better late than never. Tom will probably forgive you.

    It's a little too late to apologise - the damage is already done, and you've been dismissed for being rude to the boss's spouse.

    Example: Andrea apologised for claiming that being a mother would make her a better prime minister than her childless opponent, but it's too late to apologise now - damage to her reputation for bad judgement has already been done and cannot be fully repaired.
     

    deepuips

    Senior Member
    It's a little late to apologise, but better late than never. Tom will probably forgive you.

    It's a little too late to apologise - the damage is already done, and you've been dismissed for being rude to the boss's spouse.
    So Linkway, when we say "a little late" for any situation, there is a chance to redeem that situation partially or there is a hope of it, but when we say "a little too late", then there is absolutely no chance of redeeming the situation and there is nothing that can happen if we carry out our act. Am I right in interpreting it this way?

    For example,

    A: My sister is 64 years old and doesn't know how to drive. So it is a little late for her to drive now.

    Here, there is a some possibility of her still driving.

    But when I say

    B: My sister is 64 years old and doesn't know how to drive. So it is a little too late for her to drive now.

    Here there is no possibility of her learning to drive in the future.

    Am I right in interpreting this way?

    Many Thanks!
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Are we changing from being "early" to being "late"? There are two different questions in this thread, and I thought it best to answer the first one. They don't have the same answers.

    "My sister is 64 years old and doesn't know how to drive. So it is a little late for her to drive now." That's a bad example. In that case "a little late" implies the same as "a little too late". It's also not idiomatic - "So it is a little {too} late for her to start driving now."
     
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