Categories: French Vocabulary

Tard vs retard in French

Tard and retard are both ‘late’ in English, so what is the difference between them in French?

1. Tard

This word expresses ‘lateness’

I went to bed late: Je suis allé au lit tard.
It is too late: c’est trop tard.
It is getting late: il se fait tard.
It is a bit late: c’est un peu tard.
I will come later: je viendrai plus tard.

When ‘late’ comes with a noun: tardif (m), tardive (f)
A late hour: une heure tardive
Late arrival: arrivée tardive

Sooner or later: tôt ou tard
Better late than never: mieux vaut tard que jamais

Antonym: tôt

2. Retard

This word expresses ‘behind schedule’ or ‘overdue’

Tu es en retard: you are late (because you was expected to come earlier)
Late payment (because it is overdue): paiement en retard.
I am behind with my work: J’ai du travail en retard.

We also use “retard” with watches:
The watch is slow: la montre est en retard

And delay:
Without delay: sans retard!

Antonym: avance

Tard vs Retard
Tard expresses lateness
Retard expresses behind schedule
Lesson: to be late in French
Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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