The French Expression 'J'arrive'

French Expressions Analyzed and Explained

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The French expression j'arrive means "I'm on my way" to wherever the listener might be (downstairs in the lobby, outside the building, at home, etc). Surprisingly, it can also mean "I'll be right back," when you're already with someone and need to leave for a moment. In other words, it can be used whether or not you're actually face to face with the person you're talking to: both "I'm on my way there" and "I'm on my way (back) here."

Expression: J'arrive
Pronunciation: [zha reev]
Meaning: I'm on my way, I'll be right there / down / out / back
Literal translation: I'm arriving
Register: normal


(Au téléphone)
- Salut Christophe, je suis devant l'immeuble.
- D'accord Hélène, j'arrive.

(On the phone)
- Hi Christophe, I'm in front of the (your) building.
- OK Hélène, I'm on my way, I'll be right out.
(A l'interphone)
- Bonjour, c'est le facteur. J'ai un colis pour vous.
- Merci, Monsieur, j'arrive.

(On the apartment entry phone)
- Hello, it's the mailman. I have a package for you.
- Thank you, sir, I'll be right there/down.
Houp, j'ai oublié mon portefeuille - j'arrive.
Oops, I forgot my wallet - I'll be right back.
A classic: you catch the waiter's eye as he rushes past your table, and without slowing down, he says j'arrive.

While less common, it's also possible to use other subjects, such as
Il arrive - He'll be right here/there, He's on his way.
On arrive - We'll be right there, We're on our way.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "The French Expression 'J'arrive'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). The French Expression 'J'arrive'. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "The French Expression 'J'arrive'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).