10 Ways of Saying “I’m late” in Japanese

One of the famous (notorious?) Japanese cultures is to be punctual. In fact, if you are even 1 minute late, you may make people angry in Japan. Thus, you should know “I’m late” in Japanese. Let’s learn together.


When you are late

すみません、おそくなりました。(Sumimasen, osokunarimashita).
I’m sorry for being late.

おまたせしてすみませんでした。(O-mataseshite sumimasendeshita).
I am sorry to have kept you waiting.

When you are going to be late

In Japan, being punctual is considered to be a criterion for determining whether you are dependable. Therefore, people usually inform their situation beforehand as below.

すみません、じゅっぷんおくれます。(Sumimasen, juppun okuremasu).
Sorry, I’m going to be 10 minutes late.

すみません、じゅうたいしていてさんじゅっぷんぐらいおくれます。(Sumimasen, juutai shiteite sanjuppun gurai okuremasu.)
Sorry, I’m going to be about 30 minutes late. I’m stuck in a traffic jam.

あとにじゅっぷんでつきます。(Ato ni juppun de tsukimasu).
I will be there in 20 minutes.

すみません、ねぼうしました。いますぐいきます。(Sumimasen, nebou shimashita. Ima sugu ikimasu.)
Sorry, I have overslept. I will go immediately.

When you may be late

すみません、ごふんほどおくれるかもしれません。(Sumimasen, gofun hodo okureru kamoshiremasen).
Sorry, I may be about 5 minutes late.

でんしゃがおくれていて、じゅっぷんぐらいおくれるかもしれません。(Densha ga okureteite, juppun gurai okureru kamoshiremasen).
I may be about 10 minutes late. The train is delayed.

すみません、おくれそうです。(Sumimasen, okuresou desu).
Sorry, it’s likely that I will be late.

ちょうどにつくか、すこしおくれそうです。(Choudo ni tsuku ka, sukoshi okuresou desu).
It’s likely that I will be just on time or a little late.


In Japan, being on time is actually not enough. In the workplace, we are required to arrive at 10 minutes earlier than scheduled time. Is it difficult for you? If so, please make sure to remember the above phrases!

Recommended Links

Japanese Greetings: 30 Phrases You Need to Know
15 Phrases: How to Say “You’re Welcome” in Japanese
25 Phrases: How to Say “Thank You” in Japanese

(This post is reblogged from Wasabi, Learn Japanese Online

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“Wasabi” is a new online Japanese language learning service that started in June of 2015. They match the needs of those who want to communicate with foreigners, with those who want to study and learn the Japanese language.

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Tadaima Japan Editorial Team

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