To Late or Too Late? Simple English

People who want to know if it’s correct to say “to late” or “too late?” often ask Google how to write the phrase. This misconception is understandable because of their similarities and identical pronunciations.

The fact is that people who use the term “to late” really mean to say “too late.” “To late” is always grammatically incorrect.

Incorrect: It was to late to stop.

Correct: It was too late to go to the cinema.

“Too” Meaning

“Too” has several meanings.

“Too” Means Excessively

“Too” usually means exceeding a certain number or amount.

For example:

  • She ate too much candy.
  • The chicken is too spicy.
  • The dog is too vicious.
  • The home is too small for us.

Too Means “Also”

Too can be used to mean “also” or another way.

For example:

  • Sheila likes chicken. I like chicken too.
  • Mary is coming to the party. Patrick is coming to the party too.
  • He saw something flying in the sky, and she did too.


“To” can be added to infinitive verbs, the basic form of verbs, written as “to”+ verb.

For example:

  • Please put the chicken in the oven to bake it.
  • Mom is going to buy me some new shoes to wear with this dress.
  • We are driving north to meet my parents for dinner.

However, late can act as either an adjective or adverb, not a verb; therefore, we can’t write “to” before it.

Late Meaning

“After an Exact Time”

Late can mean happening after a certain time.

For example:

  • We arrived late to the performance and missed the first song.
  • The plane was 20 minutes late.
  • He booked a late appointment with the doctor.

What does “too late” mean?

“Too late” means that something happened after a time when it should have happened.

For example, if you arrive at 9 PM for the 7 PM film screening. Because you’re late for the screening, it is now too late to go to watch the film.

Examples of Sentences with “Too Late”

  • It is too late to read a book.
  • It is too late to eat a sandwich.
  • It’s really too late to call them now; it’s 1:30 AM!
  • It’s too late to stop climate change.
  • I couldn’t go to the cinema because I was too late.
  • It’s too late for you to buy milk; all shops are closed now.
  • It’s too late to get the milk at the supermarket; it closes in 10 minutes.
  • It’s too late to apply to the university; all places have been taken.
  • The train arrived too late, so I missed my cooking class.
  • I arrived too late at the hairdressers so they wouldn’t cut my hair.
  • 1 am is too late to go to bed.
  • My father arrived too late for work and got in trouble with the boss.
  • It was too late to take the bus, so we had to walk home.

Is it ever correct to write “to late?”

It is never correct to write “to late” and is a spelling mistake.

Some people get confused between “to” and “too.” The “too” is added for emphasis, just like “too short,” “too sugary,” and “too old.”

This might be confusing because when speaking, it’s hard to tell the difference between pronouncing “to” and “too.”

People might avoid the extra “o” in “too” because they don’t know how to use it properly when writing.

Is “to” and “too” pronounced differently?

When pronouncing “too” as “to,” we sometimes put an added emphasis on the oo vowel. Some people stress it a little more obviously. However, it still can be quite hard to distinguish the difference.

You may also be interested in: 15 Best Online English Courses Free & Paid (2022)

In Conclusion

It is always correct to write “too late,” not “to late.” To write “to late” is technically grammatically incorrect.

By understanding the differences between “to” and “too,” you can write them effectively in sentences.

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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain and online. I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others! I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. I also like a good Guinness! Please share this post if you find it helpful; I really appreciate it. Thank you!

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