To be late in Italian

How do you translate the expression to be late in Italian?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at this very expression, also known as collocation, and we’ll even talk about what kinds of “delays” there are in Italian and what words you can use to describe them.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

To be late in Italian

First of all, let’s translate to be late in Italian.

Essere in ritardo
To be late

girl who is late for school

To be late in Italian – Let’s break this down!

Essere in ritardo can literally be translated as to be in delay.

To be

Preposition “in”


Monica è in ritardo.
Monica is late.

Late as an adjective is an adverb in Italian and it is translated as tardi. You can translate “to be late” also as fare tardi, especially when it’s used in the past (“you were late and you arrived late”).

Oggi ho fatto tardi al lavoro.
I was late for work today.

Essere is a verb of the second -ere group. Its indicativo presente conjugation is irregular and is as follows.

lui, leiè

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Language: English / Italian
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Essere is a very common verb used in a wide variety of other Italian expressions. Here are a few:

Essere in anticipo
To be early

Essere d’accordo
To agree

Essere malato
To be sick

For example, you can say:

Sono arrivato in anticipo e non sapevo cosa fare.
I arrived early and didn’t know what to do.

Non sono d’accordo con la tua opinione.
I disagree with your opinion.

Paolo è malato. È a casa con l’influenza.
Paul is sick. He is at home with the flu.

boy in bed with a fever


We said that the translation for to be late in Italian is essere in ritardo. Ritardo is a masculine noun.

Un ritardo
A delay

Dei ritardi
Some delays

Il ritardo
The delay

I ritardi
The delays

There’s more than one kind of delay in Italian. Here are some words that often go with ritardo:

Ritardo cognitivo/motorio
Cognitive/motor delay

Leggero ritardo
Slight delay

Ritardo cronico
Chronic delay

For example, you could say…

Il ritardo motorio può essere causato da vari fattori.
Motor delay can be caused by various factors.

Sono in leggero ritardo. Posso ancora arrivare in orario.
I am slightly late. I can still be on time.

Mattia non è mai puntuale. È in ritardo cronico.
Mattia is never on time. He is chronically late.

kid running because he is late

To be late in Italian – Examples

Ho perso l’autobus e ora sono in ritardo.
I missed the bus, and now I’m late.

A volte i treni possono essere in ritardo.
Trains can be late sometimes.

Siamo in ritardo per la lezione.
We are late for the lesson.

Non voglio fare tardi all’appuntamento.
I don’t want to be late for the appointment.

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