They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came for him to say good-bye to Norbert if they hadn't been so worried about what they had to do. It was a very dark, cloudy night, and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid's hut because they'd had to wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the entrance hall, where he'd been playing tennis against the wall. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

It seems that ‘late’ is complementized far more with ‘arriving’[A] than ‘to arrive’[B]. What’s the difference between the two in meaning?

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  • I think it's likely that 'a bit late' is an adverbial going in the mid-position -- they were arriving + a bit late = 'they were a bit late arriving'. 'a bit late to arrive...' would mean 'it is already late to arrive at the hut', which seems to make less sense here.
    – user1513
    Jul 26, 2013 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid's hut because . .

'arriving..' here starts a participle clause to describe an event simultaneous with 'were a bit late'.

and they were a bit late as they were arriving at Hagrid's hut because . .

The participle clause can be converted to a adverbial clause as above.

We are a bit late to arrive there on time.

'to arrive' is an adverbial clause to express a purpose. 'in order to arrive' can be used instead.

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