French expressions analyzed and explained

woman driving and talking on cell phone

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

Notes: 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."


   (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.

For other meanings of the verb arriver, see the links below.