We talked until late

Is this sentence correct? It sounds strange to me but I'm not sure what's grammatically wrong about it.

What about this?

We talked into the night

This sounds better to me. But is there a simpler way to put this that has the same meaning?

  • Sounds fine to me.
    – Mitch
    Nov 27, 2012 at 0:28
  • I'd interpret "We talked until late" to be an informal, shortened version of "We talked late into the night."
    – J.R.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 1:04
  • Any doubts on its grammaticality are misplaced. Non-Q.
    – Kris
    Nov 27, 2012 at 4:50

1 Answer 1


OED late sense 3 - Of the time of day: at or till a late hour (first citation 1400).

So there's no reason to suppose "We talked until late" (or, for example, "Go to bed! It's late!") are in any way "shortened" or "informal" versions of something longer and more "grammatical".

I would just say that "We talked late" (without until) sounds slightly "odd" to me, but that's probably because I assume the talking started earlier, and continued until late. I see nothing unusual about "We ate late", because I assume it means we didn't start eating until late.

  • The only question I might have – which is why I mentioned "shortened" and "informal" in my comment – is the use of the preposition. I have no problem with "We talked late," but I wondered if a proofreader might have a problem with "We talked until late" in formal writing. (Conversationally, it's fine.)
    – J.R.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 0:32
  • 1
    The issue is that until normally takes a noun or noun phrase, and late is not a noun. It sounds fine to me, but it is at least unusual, because late needs to stand for a noun phrase here, like a late hour, or late at night. We ate late is different: then you simply have a predicative adjective, no suggestion of nouns (you can't eat a late hour). We ate late is similar to we came first, and perhaps to we talked late at night too. Nov 27, 2012 at 1:18
  • 1
    @BillFranke: "Late at night" is to me an adverbial-phrase-turned-noun-phrase, because you can say, "late at night is not a good time". As to your "why can't it function as [a noun]", who said it couldn't? Not I. It obviously functions as one in the original sentence. I was just pointing out why it is unusual. Nov 27, 2012 at 10:12
  • 1
    @Cerberus: In Chomsky's terms, a phrase (NP, VP, AdjP, AdvP) can consist of a single word. I think the terminology sometimes clouds the issue. Those terms are a convenience for linguists, not anything for the rest of us to hold onto. The important point is how a word or phrase or clause functions, not what part of speech it's called. And because the "adverb" pigeonhole is generally considered a garbage can by linguists, that calls the entire nomenclature into question. Most terms for POS can be justified, but some are in those categories just because God and linguists work in mysterious ways.
    – user21497
    Nov 27, 2012 at 10:41
  • 3
    @BillFranke: Yeah, of course every model has to be a simplification. It becomes a whole lot less problematic if you recognise that the lines between the categories are often blurred, and that word can be in several categories at once. A participle is an adjective externally and a verb internally, for instance. Nov 27, 2012 at 12:30

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