What are you doing up at this late hour?

Can I rewrite the sentence above as below?

(Being) Up at this late hour, what are you doing?

  • 1
    'Up' is used informally as a synonym for 'awake' in your example. So, the sentence isn't just asking what 'you' are doing 'at this late hour,' it's asking why you're awake 'at this late hour.' 'Up' changes the sentence's meaning, and so can't be omitted. May 30, 2023 at 19:37
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    Your title and question body ask whether "up" is needed, but the question body also asks whether the sentence can be rewritten in a different form without changing "up". Which is your actual question? (If you'd like to ask both questions, then please post them separately, since they involve different issues.) May 30, 2023 at 19:40
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    @MarcInManhattan EDIT performed according to your suggestion.
    – gomadeng
    May 30, 2023 at 19:48
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    to be up means to not be sleeping; it's an idiom.
    – Lambie
    May 30, 2023 at 20:17
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    This question borders on proofreading. If you have a question about some aspect of English in general, please edit the question to ask it
    – gotube
    May 30, 2023 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


I would not rewrite it that way. In general, modifiers should be as close as possible to what they modify; that is especially useful for avoiding ambiguity. In your rewritten sentence, the modifier "(Being) Up at this late hour" is closest to the pronoun "what", even though it clearly does not describe that pronoun. It is certainly possible that a listener will infer that it describes "you", but a listener might also infer that it describes the speaker. I wouldn't risk the possibility of being misunderstood; the first sentence is much more natural and easily understood.

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