How do you say I’ll be late in Japanese

Some people say that Japanese are really strict with time. If you end up going to Japan, you may notice that trains or buses are almost never late when running regularly.
So, if you're late meeting with someone, you'll need to apologize, because some Japanese people are strict when it comes to time.

We will share about how to say "I'll be late!" in Japanese in this article. You will be able to learn both the casual and the formal way to say it.

How do you say I’ll be late in Japanese?


When you're late to meet a friend, you can say (おく)れる (okureru) or 遅刻(ちこく)する (chikokusuru).
(おく)れる(okureru) and 遅刻(ちこく)する (chikokusuru) are both natural expressions, but (おく)れる(okureru) is better to say in a casual situation. When you say (おく)れる or 遅刻(ちこく)する, don’t forget to say "sorry" (ごめんね) first.


J) ごめん(ね)、おくれる!
/gomen(ne), okureru!/
E) Sorry, I’ll be late!

J) ごめん(ね)、遅刻ちこくする!
/gomen(ne), chikokusuru!/
E) Sorry, I’ll be late!



In formal situation like at work, (おく)れます (okuremasu) or 遅刻(ちこく)します (chikokushimasu) are the right expressions to tell someone you’ll be late. ~ます (masu) is a polite verb stem.
ごめんね (gomennne) is a casual way to apologize, so you should say (もう)(わけ)ございません (moushiwake gozaimasen) to superiors and elders in formal situations.


J) 会議かいぎこくします。大変申し訳ございません。
/kaigini chikoku shimasu. taihen moushiwake gozaimasen/
E) I’ll be late for the meeting. I’m so sorry.


How late will you be?

You will need to tell how late you will be. You may be a little late, or you could be running over an hour late.
You only need to say the time before 遅れる or 遅刻する when you want to tell how long you will make someone wait for you.


/gomenne! chotto okureru!/
E) Sorry, I'll be a little late.

J) 申(もう)(わけ)ございません。15(ふん)遅刻(ちこく)します。
/moushiwakegozaimasen. juugofun chikokushimasu./
E) I’m sorry. I’ll be 15 minutes late.

Why will you be late?

Most people will probably not ask you the reason you're late, but sometimes you'll need to explain why.

If you want to tell the reason, you should say the reason with ~から which means “because” before 遅れる.


J) ごめん、寝坊ねぼうしたからおくれる!
/gomen, neboushitakara okureru/
E) Sorry, I'll be late because I overslept!

When will you be able to get there?

After telling them sorry, you should tell when you will get there.
When you want to tell the time you will arrive at, you can say <Time>に()く(ni tsuku).


J) 3()()く(よ)
sanjini tsuku(yo).
E) I’ll get there at 3.

J) 3()(とう)(ちゃく)します。
sanjini touchaku shimasu.
E)I’ll get there at 3.(Formal)

If you want to say it nicely, you can add よ(yo) to に()く. This is spoken language that makes words sound natural and friendly.

In formal situations, you say に到着(とうちゃく)します(ni touchaku shimasu) instead of に()く. 到着(とうちゃく)(touchaku) is a more difficult word with the same meaning of  ()く. します(shimasu) is a polite verb stem.

The particles で and に have different nuances when you use them in regards to time. Like we said before, if you say 3時に着くよ  (I'll be there at 3) you are using the particle に to indicate a single point in time. In other words, it can mean "at." 

But if you want to use で, you will use it to indicate the amount of time it will take to get there. For example: 15分で着くよ (I'll get there in 15 minutes), you are saying that it will take 15 minutes to get there. In other words, the particle で means "it takes~".


J) あと15分で着くよ。
/ ato jugohun de tsukuyo./
E) It will take me 15 minutes to get there.



【I’ll be late.】
Casual:(おく)れる or 遅刻(ちこく)する
Formal:(おく)れます or 遅刻(ちこく)します

【Time+(おく)れる or 遅刻(ちこく)する】

Casual: 寝坊ねぼうしたから(おく)れる。

Formal:3()()きます or に到着(とうちゃく)します。


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