How to Speak Japanese

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

A woman having overslpt herself

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.

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10 Phrases: How to say “I’m late” in Japanese

When you are late

I’m sorry for being late.
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.

Sorry, I’m going to be 10 minutes late.
Sorry, I’m going to be about 30 minutes late. I’m stuck in a traffic jam.
I will be there in 20 minutes.
Sorry, I have overslept. I will go immediately.

When you may be late

Sorry, I may be about 5 minutes late.
I may be about 10 minutes late. The train is delayed. 
Sorry, it’s likely that I will be late.
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!

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