The phrase: "I'm an hour too late for something"

The question: What is more correct "an hour too late" or "too late an hour" here?

  • 2
    The intensifier too is irrelevant here. If an "adverb" such as late, early, up, down, forward, back is modified by a noun phrase (a duration, quantity, distance, etc.), and that np is placed after the adverb, we normally expect an intervening preposition (typically, by). Thus I'm an hour early or I'm early by an hour (no preposition is needed if the np comes before the adverb). But in some cases we can omit the preposition with either sequence. Thus a successful gambler could say I'm £100 up or I'm up £100 (as well as I'm up by £100). – FumbleFingers Mar 1 at 13:24
  • @WillCrawford "irrelevant" does not mean "pointless". It means, well, irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Nothing you say is in any sort of disagreement with anything FF said. – RegDwigнt Mar 1 at 20:24
  • Touché. I'll remove it... – Will Crawford Mar 3 at 12:40

I think 'an hour too late' is the more correct of the two you are asking.

Mostly because the latter 'too late an hour' would usually be phrased 'too late by an hour' - usually said at the point you realise you're too late.

Oh no! I'm too late by an hour!

If mentioning the event, you wouldn't say you're 'too late by an hour for [x] so I would also change the order of things being stated for the latter.

I'm an hour too late for [x]

I'm too late for [x] by an hour

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