By Wil

Do you have any friends who are often late? I do, and it used to make me really mad. Now it doesn’t make me so upset because I can read books on my smartphone to pass the time until they arrive.

‘Late’ is a word we learn soon after we start learning English. Often we learn it when we look at how to talk about the time in English.

‘Lately’ looks like it could be the adverb form of late, but it isn’t. Let’s look at two sentences:

“He is often late” (adjective)

“He often arrives late” (adverb)

‘Late’ stays the same whether it as an adjective or adverb.

So, what about ‘lately’, then?

‘Lately’ means the same as ‘recently’ or ‘in the time just before now’. Let’s look at an example:

“Have you seen any good films lately/recently?”


“Have you seen any good films in the last few weeks?”

So, ‘late’ is for things that happen after the time they are scheduled and ‘lately’ means the same as ‘recently’.

Test yourself with these examples (answers are at the bottom)

Choose the correct option

1. I woke up late / lately so I missed my train to work.

2. I have been doing a lot of exercise late / lately and it’s helped me lose weight.

3. Late / Lately, I have been going to bed late / lately.

What have you been doing lately? Use the comments section below to give us some examples using ‘lately’ correctly in a sentence.

(Answers: 1. late, 2. lately, 3. Lately, late)

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