En retard

En retard
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Essential French Expression

Meaning late
Register normal
Pronunciation [a(n) reu tar]
IPA   [ã ʁə taʁ]

Usage notes: Though the English words "retard" and "retarded" have unfortunately taken on pejorative meanings, in French, retard is a perfectly acceptable noun meaning "delay."

Par exemple…

des retards successifs   a series of delays
sans retard   without delay
Il a un retard en français.   He’s behind on his French.

The adverbial French expression en retard, meaning delayed, late, behind, or overdue, can only be used with a verb like être or arriver.*

Par exemple…

On va être en retard !   We’re going to be late!
Il est toujours en retard à l’école.   He’s always late to school.
Tu es arrivé en retard hier.   You arrived late yesterday.

En retard can describe a person or entity as under-developed or behind.

Par exemple…

Il est en retard pour son âge.   He’s behind for his age.
C’est un pays en retard.   It’s an under-developed country.

Antonym: en avance – early, ahead of schedule

Expressions with retard

  • avoir du retard – to be (running) late/slow, to be overdue
  • avoir du retard à l’allumage (informal) – to be a bit slow on the uptake
  • avoir (cinq minutes, deux jours…) de retard – to be (five minutes, two days…) 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 siècle / temps – to be behind the times
  • mettre (quelqu’un) en retard – to make (someone) late
  • (le travail / les tâches) en retard – backlog (of work / tasks)

  * The adjective "late" is equivalent to tardif in French.

Par exemple…

un dîner tardif   a late dinner
une heure tardive   a late hour

 French verb conjugations

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