English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How should I fix a sentence which says "As X disappears, it is increasingly too late to do Y with X"? The sentence seems awkward to me, but "too late" is an adjective, so is the sentence grammatically correct?

share|improve this question
So far, I have "As X disappears, there are fewer remaining X to Y", but I'm curious if there are other ways to recast the sentence since the "too-late-ness" is what I want to emphasize. – Neil G Aug 31 '12 at 0:27
The problem is simply that if something's already too late, it can't become any more so - that's like saying "As X dies, he is increasingly too dead to do Y". – FumbleFingers Aug 31 '12 at 0:35
As X's health deteriorates, he is increasingly too unhealthy to do Y? – Neil G Aug 31 '12 at 0:39
Well, obviously there are marginal cases that vary according to exactly what "too" modifies, but by and large it's either "too late" to do something, or it's not. You'd probably be better avoiding "too" completely, and going for something like "As X disappears, it is increasingly difficult to do Y with what remains". It might depend a bit on exactly what X and Y actually are. – FumbleFingers Aug 31 '12 at 0:45
@NeilG We only know what you disclose in the question. Note the comment is not "no research effort" but "research effort missing". The faq expands on this; also, see How to Ask: “Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer” [emphasis added]. – MετάEd Aug 31 '12 at 3:56
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your sentence has a problem because "too late" is not a matter of degree. "Too late" is a binary category -- either it is or it isn't -- so it makes no sense to talk about "increasingly too late". So what is changing over time? My guess is that your real meaning is:

As X disappears, it is increasingly difficult to do Y with X.

or, even better:

As X disappears, the chances of doing Y with X diminish to nothing.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.