En Retard - French Expression Explained

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