French Expression Explained: En Retard

Woman looking at wristwatch

The French expression en retard (pronounced [a(n) reu tar]) can be translated by "late" or any number of synonyms: behind, overdue, delayed, etc. En retard is adverbial, meaning that it must be used with a verb, usually être or arriver.

Note that the French translation of "late" as an adjective (to be used with a noun) is tardif. For example, un repas tardif = a late meal.


  • Tu es en retard !
    You're late!
  • Je suis en retard à mon rendez-vous.
    I'm late for my appointment.
  • Il va arriver en retard ce matin.
    He'll be (arriving) late this morning.
  • Elle est arrivé en retard au travail.
    She was late for work.

(Note that the offensive English word "retard" is a faux ami.)

Expressions with retard

  • avoir du retard
    to be (running) late, to be overdue
  • avoir (une heure, trois semaines...) de retard
    to be (an hour, three weeks...) late
  • être en retard pour son âge
    to be backward for one's age
  • être en retard sur l'horaire / le programme
    to be behind schedule
  • être en retard sur son temps / siècle
    to be behind the times
  • mettre (quelqu'un) en retard
    to make (someone) late
  • (le courrier / travail) en retard
    backlog (of mail / work)


  • en avance
    early, ahead of schedule
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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Expression Explained: En Retard." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Expression Explained: En Retard. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Expression Explained: En Retard." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2023).