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Expressing timeliness (late, early) - precise

Expressing timeliness (late, early, on time) - in general can be extended to say precisely how late...

Here are some sentences:

Notre train a eu 2 heures de retard à cause de la neige
Our train was two hours late because of the snow

Notre train a été en retard de 2 heures à cause de la neige.
Our train was two hours late because of the snow.

J'aurai sûrement un quart d'heure de retard
I will probably be fifteen minutes late

Je serai sûrement en retard d'un quart d'heure.
I will probably be fifteen minutes late.

Je ne suis pas encore prête, tu as vingt minutes d'avance!
I'm not ready yet, you are twenty minutes early!

Je ne suis pas encore prête, tu es en avance de vingt minutes!
I'm not ready yet, you are twenty minutes early!

To indicate the degree of timeliness (to be [5 minutes] late/early) in French, you can use these two expressions: 

late -> avoir [5 minutes] de  retard OR être en retard de [5 minutes]

early -> avoir [5 minutes] d'avance OR être en avance de [5 minutes]

 

ATTENTION:  

In sentences witharriver/venir/commencer/finir, you will use either:

avec [5 minutes] de retard / avec [5 minutes] d'avance
or
[5 minutes] en retard / [5 minutes] en avance

Je suis arrivé avec dix minutes de retard.
Je suis arrivé dix minutes en retard.

I arrived ten minutes late

La réunion a commencé avec une demi-heure d'avance.
La réunion a commencé une demi-heure en avance

The meeting started half an hour early

Le concert a fini avec une heure de retard.
Le concert a fini une heure en retard.

The concert ended one hour late.

Il est venu avec une heure d'avance.
Il est venu une heure en avance.

He came an hour earlier.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je ne suis pas encore prête, tu es en avance de vingt minutes!
I'm not ready yet, you are twenty minutes early!


Je ne suis pas encore prête, tu as vingt minutes d'avance!
I'm not ready yet, you are twenty minutes early!


Il est venu avec une heure d'avance.
Il est venu une heure en avance.

He came an hour earlier.


J'aurai sûrement un quart d'heure de retard
I will probably be fifteen minutes late


Je suis arrivé avec dix minutes de retard.
Je suis arrivé dix minutes en retard.

I arrived ten minutes late


Notre train a eu 2 heures de retard à cause de la neige
Our train was two hours late because of the snow


Notre train a été en retard de 2 heures à cause de la neige.
Our train was two hours late because of the snow.


La réunion a commencé avec une demi-heure d'avance.
La réunion a commencé une demi-heure en avance

The meeting started half an hour early


Je serai sûrement en retard d'un quart d'heure.
I will probably be fifteen minutes late.


Le concert a fini avec une heure de retard.
Le concert a fini une heure en retard.

The concert ended one hour late.


Q&A

alison

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2018

3 replies

Je suis dix minutes en retard?

Can you tell me what is incorrect : Je suis dix minutes en retard? Should it be "je suis en retard de dix minutes"?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2018

30/01/18

It is either: 



1) J'ai dix minutes de retard.
I have 10 minutes of delay.


2) Je suis en retard de dix minutes. 
I am in delay of 10 minutes.



Please note that the English translations are only meant as a mnemonic and not real translations.


In French, you either "have xx minutes of delay" or "you are in delay of xx minutes."


-- Chris (not a native speaker).

alison

Kwiziq community member

31 January 2018

31/01/18

Thanks Chris but you haven’t really answered my question- is “ je suis dix minutes en retard “ incorrect? Ii is marked down as being so.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

31 January 2018

31/01/18

Sorry, I wasn't being entirely clear, I guess. Yes, "je suis dix minutes en retard" is incorrect. The only two possibilites are the ones I cited in my first reply.

-- Chris.

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

7 January 2018

2 replies

Same question as Robert

Why is je suis arrivé cinq minutes en avance accepted but in pink?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 January 2018

8/01/18

Pink isn't bad, Jennifer. Your answer is correct. I guess the color just tells you that there is another possible answer to this question.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

8 January 2018

8/01/18

Thanks Claus,

I thought it meant the answer was ok but less ok than the usual black and white colour.

robert

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

1 reply

mr quizik only accepts two answers of four shown in this article

"Il est en avance de deux heurs" is shown as error with "Il a deux heures d'avance" as the correct answer. The computer seems to accepting only two of the four forms shown on this page

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 August 2017

29/08/17

Bonjour Robert !

The reason is that you wrote "deux heurs" instead of "deux heures" :)

Bonne journée !

Tamani

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2017

4 replies

Je serai sûrement en retard d'un quatre d'heure

Shouldn't it be 'Je serai sûrement en retard un quatre d'heure,' since the article states être en retard (without the de) is a possibility?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 August 2017

25/08/17

Bonjour Tamani !

You can use en retard on its own to express simply "[I'm] late".

However, if you want to be more precise and add how long you're late for, then you will need to use "en retard de + [duration]" :


Je suis en retard à mon rendez-vous.
Je suis en retard de dix minutes à mon rendez-vous.

See also : 
https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/how-to-express-timeliness-late-early-on-time-general

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Tamani

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

26/08/17

Thank you, that is helpful! So it seems that the article is incorrect where it says: 'To indicate the degree of timeliness...you can use these two expressions avoir (5 mins) de retard/d'avance or être EN RETARD/en avance de (5 mins).' N'est-ce pas?

David

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2017

27/08/17

Hello Tamani. Note that the final "de" belongs to both "en retard" and "en avance". That slash can be somewhat confusing. You should read that text as these four options:
"avoir 5 mins de retard", "avoir 5 mins d'avance", "être en retard de 5 mins", "être en avance de 5 mins".

Tamani

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2017

27/08/17

Bonjour David. Yes I see that the slash doesn't make it entirely clear. But I've got it now. Thanks!

robert

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

2 replies

(arrivé) "cinq minutes en retard"

Shown as valid option, but my answer was marked with pink (error?) with the alternative "avec cinq minutes de retard" in blue (preference check mark?) although I received credit for the question

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Bonjour Robert,
It has been a while since I have had that occur on my response to a question. It is my understanding that the program considers your answer correct, hence the pink, but it considers another response to be the correct response. (Aren't computer programs wonderful since they tend to view response in a «black and white» context)
I think that anyone who has studied French for any length of time, or English for that matter, know that there are usually multiple ways to respond or word phrases with the same or similar meaning, typically known as syntax. Even with one word responses, there is usually more than one word that will suffice, i.e. manger, avaler, dévorer, déjeuner, dîner, se nourrir, se sustenter, etc.
J'espère que cela vous aiderait.
Bonne chance.
Ron

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

23 February 2018

23/02/18

I have the same question. What am I missing?

Suzanne

Kwiziq community member

12 August 2017

9 replies

Why is it no longer possible to print the quick lessons?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

12 August 2017

12/08/17

Bonjour Suzanne,
I am not sure what the print issue is that you are experiencing as I just opened this lesson and was able to print it.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

23 August 2017

23/08/17

Bonjour Suzanne !

Sorry about that !
The share buttons will be back very soon, but in the meantime you can still print by pressing [ctrl]+[p] :)

À bientôt ! 

Suzanne

Kwiziq community member

23 August 2017

23/08/17

Merci, Aurélie. I was using the share buttons--I had not tried [ctrl]+[p]!

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 August 2017

23/08/17

Bonjour Aurélie,
Je vois que vous étés revenue et j'ai une question. De temps en temps, il y a une carré verte au-dessous votre nom. Qu'est la signification?
Merci en avance.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Bonjour Ron !

This a new feature we're rolling out to help highlight helpful comments. So far, I've tested it on my own answers, but we'll start applying it soon to the users' best answers :)

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Merci pour m'avoir répondu et bonne journée.

Suzanne

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Thanks for all the help. I have a MAC and the comparable [ctrl]+[p] command causes a blank sheet to print. I can't copy any of the text either.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Here is a link from apple support concerning print commands on a Mac


https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204135


I hope it helps.

Suzanne

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

Lisa

Kwiziq community member

11 July 2017

2 replies

Why is this incorrect

I put Je suis dix minutes en retard i.e. Être plus en, not Avoir plus de. It was marked wrong. .....?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 July 2017

14/07/17

The two options are:

1) Je suis en retard de dix minutes.
2) J'ai dix minutes de retard.


The word order is off in your answer.

-- Chris.

Lisa

Kwiziq community member

14 July 2017

14/07/17

Thanks v much! Aha

William

Kwiziq community member

28 March 2017

1 reply

Late or early in French

What is used most often in French, the “être” expression or the “avoir” expression? The “avoir” expression sounds like an intangible expression of quantity, j’ai deux bouteilles de lait mais j’ai deux heures de retard ou deux heures d’avance.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

31 March 2017

31/03/17

Bonjour William !

Based on my own usage, I'd say I tend to use the "avoir" expression more often, but I don't know if you can make a rule of it :)
Both are perfectly colloquial.

Bonne journée !

Lorraine

Kwiziq community member

4 March 2017

1 reply

When would you use "tôt"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 March 2017

10/03/17

Bonjour Lorraine !

The word "tôt" means "early" as opposed to "tard" (late) in French, to indicate a time in the day, i.e. "early in the morning". 


"Je me suis levé tôt." (I got up early.)
"Oh là là, il est tôt !" (Oh, it's early!)
"Tu es arrivé plus tôt que prévu." (You arrived earlier than expected.)

"En avance" and "en retard" indicate a relationship between those moments and a given time: you're early or late compared to that given time.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Claire

Kwiziq community member

2 September 2016

1 reply

J'aurai vs. Je serai. What's the difference?

I'm bit confused by these two examples: J'aurai sûrement un quart d'heure de retard. I will probably be fifteen minutes late. Je serai sûrement en retard d'un quart d'heure. I will probably be fifteen minutes late. If "j'aurai" and "je serai" both mean "I will", how do I know which one to use?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

2 September 2016

2/09/16

They don't really mean "I will," but rather "I will have" and "I will be," respectively.

J'aurai is the future of avoir - to have. So J'aurai sûrement un quart d'heure de retard literally means "I will surely have a quarter hour of lateness." Here, retard is a noun in French, so you "have" it.

Je serai is the future of être - to be. Je serai sûrement en retard d'un quart d'heure means I will surely be late by a quarter hour. Here, en retard is an adverb, so you are late.

The difference is probably easier to understand with different examples:

J'aurai du temps libre demain = I will have some free time tomorrow.

vs

Je serai là à midi = I will be there at noon.

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