When to use atrasado or tarde

When to use atrasado or tarde?

I don’t know how to post a question here about difference of usage of vocabulary

Olá, @samhitta7 and thanks for posting. Whenever you want to create a new topic, just look for the button “New Topic” on the upper right corner above the list of already existing topics (within a category) or above the list of categories (on the forum’s home page).

I have already moved your question into its own topic, so no further action needed from you here :slight_smile:

The words atrasado and tarde, in the sense of late, tend to overlap and you can often use them interchangeably. They’re mostly interchangeable when they come after verbs of movement such as chegar or partir and never (as far as I can remember) with verbs of state such as estar or ser.

Here are some examples of sentences where they are interchangeable:
Example 1: A reunião começou às 10:00, mas nós chegámos atrasados. = A reunião começou às 10:00, mas nós chegámos tarde. (The meeting started at 10:00, but we arrived late)
Example 2: A partida estava marcada para o meio-dia, mas o comboio saiu tarde. = A partida estava marcada para o meio-dia, mas o comboio saiu atrasado. (The departure was scheduled to noon, but the train left late)

Here are some examples of cases where they are not interchangeable:

  • When by late, you mean late in the day (evening, late night) rather than late in relation to a given deadline
    Example: O voo aterrou tarde, à meia-noite. Mas chegou a horas. (The flight landed late at night, at midnight. But it arrived on time.)

  • When the sentence specifically asks for an adjective (atrasado) or an adverb (tarde) in context, because you are using ser/estar (verbs of state):
    Example 1: João, tu estás muito atrasado! (João, you are very late!) → “estás muito tarde” is not acceptable.
    Example 2: Agora é muito tarde para tu resmungares. (Now it’s too late for you to whine) → “é muito atrasado” is not acceptable

As a tip for you, when dealing with verbs ser/estar, if you’re qualifying a person or thing, go for the adjective atrasado, as in example #1. In impersonal sentences, you’ll need the adverb tarde instead, as in example #2.

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