normally, we say "it's getting late" to say that time is passing and especially that evening or late evening is coming

For example, It's getting late so we should probably go home.

My question is:

Can we say "it's getting late" when we are late to do something and not referring to the end of the day.

For example, you're supposed to cook lunch at 10 am but now is 11: am already. Then, can we say "it's getting late to cook lunch"?

  • I think it sounds fine.
    – stangdon
    Jul 28 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


10 am sounds rather early to eat lunch, but if you were supposed to have started preparing the meal an hour ago you are already too late!

It's getting late isn't usually used with reference to a fixed time. It means, as the dictionary says, that time is passing and the usual time for doing something is very near or already past. For example, you are on a country walk with friends and you haven't yet found a suitable spot to sit down and eat your packed lunch, although it will soon be past your usual lunchtime. You might say "We must find somewhere soon - it's getting late."

  • In many Asian countries, many people eat lunch the same as they eat dinner. That is they have to properly cook vegetables, meat, etc and sit down at a table and eat like having dinner. So, it's rather a time consuming task. In western countries, they might just prepare lunch simpler.
    – Tom
    Jul 28 at 15:37
  • 2
    Some people have a cooked lunch/midday dinner in the West too! You could say "We'd better start cooking lunch soon - it's getting late" if it's past your usual time for starting. Jul 28 at 15:50
  • @Tom Bear in mind we often say to make lunch, dinner, breakfast. And in the US, fix is also used. We really only use cook (all varieties of English) when the act of cooking is important: I cooked dinner five times last week.
    – Lambie
    Jul 28 at 17:40

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