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The French phrase "Je suis en retard"

Ready to learn everything you have to know about the basic sentence "Je suis en retard"? This include a full guide of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. And also the useful stuff we sprinkled like synonym, slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

English translation

  • Translation : I am late

  • Register : Neutral - Basic

Pronunciation guide



  • IPA : / ʒə sɥiz- ɑ̃ ʁətaʁ /

aesthetic french quote en retard

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What does it mean?


The literal meaning is:

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...)


↓ Example in a story with English translation ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.


Bad luck

LéaJe sais, je suis en retard. Je suis vraiment désolé !
I know, I'm late. I am really sorry!
ClaudeC'est pas grave. Tu veux boire quelque chose ?
That's fine. Do you want something to drink?
LéaOui, un jus d'orange, s'il te plaît... Oh, en fait non, juste de l'eau.
Yes, an orange juice, please... Oh, actually no, just water.
LéaParfait, merci !
Perfect, thank you!
ClaudeAlors, qu'est-ce-qu'il s'est passé ? Pourquoi tu es arrivée en retard ?
So, what happened? Why did you arrive late?
LéaTout d'abord, j'étais coincée au travail.
First of all, I was stuck at work.
ClaudePourquoi ? Trop de choses à faire ?
Why? Too many things to do?
LéaOui, et aussi parce que mon collègue a fait des erreurs.
Yes, and also because my colleague made mistakes.


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Ça vaut le coup


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