why the phrase 来不及 is translated into too late? why not use 太迟? 太迟爱你. what is the different between them?

and why does 来不及 mean too late in the first place?

  • 来=come
  • 不=no
  • 及=??

Makes little sense to me.

  • If you translate sentence S in language A to B then back to A, you can't expect to get back exactly S. You can of course use 太迟 if you start with English, eg 爱你已太迟
    – jf328
    Aug 23, 2016 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


The break down:

  • 「來」(come )
  • 「及」implies 「及時」 (in time) here.

  • 「得」or 「不」 are the two potential particles that indicate " "able , or "unable"

    *You either able or unable to come in time. That's why they are called potential particles.

In summary:

「來」 (come) 「不」(unable to) 「及」 (in time )

「來不及」= unable to come in time = too late

「來不及愛你」= unable to come to love you in time = too late to love you.


A simple way to distinguish the two of the phrase:

You use either 来不及做某事 or 做某事太迟了 when you wanna say too late to do something If you want to use 太迟, put the object ahead of 太迟. 太迟爱你 is not even correct in grammar.

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