The French phrase "Je suis en retard"

On this page, we are going to explain you all the things you ever wanted to know about the basic French sentence “Je suis en retard”.

Including a full explanation of what it is and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. And also the useful informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonyms and more!

By the way, more of these sentences are available on this page plus all our French words guides on this page. Ready to learn? C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

Table of Contents

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Artboard 1
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English translation

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


The literal meaning is:

  • Je  → I
  • Suis → Am
  • En retard → In delay

Whenever French people are running late for something, you will hear them saying “Je suis en retard !” (I’m late!). It’s the simplest way to express the idea of “being late” in French and a basic sentence that you should know, unless you are always on time!

It has a neutral register, so you can use it in every situation. Let’s see some examples…

How to use

You are running late for an appointment, a meeting, etc. and someone asks you something. You can’t do it right now, so you say: “Je suis en retard” (I’m late). This implies that you have an excuse for not answering this person right now.

For more complete sentences, you can say: “Je ne peux pas, je suis en retard” (I can’t, I’m late) or “Plus tard, je suis en retard” (Later, I’m late) or even “Pas maintenant, je suis en retard” (Not now, I’m late).

Another scenario: you arrive at your meeting and you are 20 minutes late… the first thing you should do (after “Bonjour“) is to apologize for being late. 

And for that you say: “Désolé, je suis en retard” (Sorry, I’m late) or “Désolé pour le retard” (Sorry for the delay). Because people will probably be upset if you don’t mention any kind of apologies. Furthermore, it’s an occasion to explain right after why you have been late. (Or at least invent a possible explanation…)


  • Chui en retard. (“I’m late“)(Familiar)
  • Je suis à la bourre. (“I am delayed“)(Familiar)
  • Je suis charrette. (“I’m late“)(Familiar)
  • Je suis grave à la bourre. (“I am super delayed“)(Familiar)
  • Je suis à la traîne. (“I am delayed“)

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue transcription

” Désolé, je suis en retard “
” Sorry, I’m late “
” It was about time! “
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