"Il est tard."

Translation:It's late.

February 20, 2013

This discussion is locked.


I translated it with "he is late" which obviously was wrong. but I don't exactly know why. what do you say to point out that actually HE (a person) is late?


In French "tard" is an adverb, not an adjective, that is why it does not work. Same thing with "tôt": it is early = il est tôt - he is early = il est en avance.


Good to know, but... why is this in Adjectives 2, then?

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Good point !


Couldn't agree more! And how do I say 'he is late'?


Sitesurf: in the android app, your answer that it has already been mentioned several times is actually the first answer adressing that point. Is the answer tree perhaps upside down at different platforms? In the android app no time tags are visible.


As already written 6 times on this thread: il est en retard.


I think you would say, "Il est en retard."



There are no time tags on the main site either, only on a scope of 24 hours. Depending where people ask their questions, the chronological order may not be respected. Example: if I start a new question on this thread, it will get down as the last post. If you read all posts down to the very end of this thread, you will see that previous conversations are located below (including the earlier mentions that "he is late" translates to "il est en retard").


Might wanna take the adverb out of an adjectives section.


Why? Obviously this is meant to check whether we know the difference. I didn't and now have learned.


this seems obscure...and I dont know how I would know it at this stage of learning. I am still trying to figure out french words as the apply using context of the sentence. So, this is a layer I dont believe I have been exposed to until now.


Troll level: French.


Il here isn't masuline personal pronoun but an impersonal pronoun as in the expressions il est important/ Il pleut/ etc. they are translated by IT.= It is important/ It's raining. HERE:Il est tard.=It's late. or il est tôt =it is early


You can say "il est en retard" to say "he is late".


Il est en retard


Am I right in saying that translating this as 'he' would be a bit like saying 'he is quickly' instead of 'he is quick'?


Yes, you are right.


That helps me remember - but in English, "it is quickly" would also be incorrect. So to my understanding, tard is not really an adverb - it does not describe a verb in this sentence - but just an adjective that doesn't work with personal pronouns.


"tard" is necessarily and adverb because it is not an adjective. The adjective matching "tard" is "tardif / tardive".

"il dîne / il rentre tard" show that "tard" is an adverb, modifying the verb.


In English though, "late" as in "it is late" is an adjective the same as for "he is late." It's only an adverb when modifying a verb, like in "he arrived late." Thank you very much for your French explanations! They're just not jelling with my understanding of English grammar. (but why would I expect them to?!)


In this case, I believe "tard" is the adverb modifying the verb "is."


Part of the difficulty here is that 'tard' in French is apparently an adverb which translates into 'late' in English which we think of as an adjective because it goes with "is".


That doesn't make sense. Not being an adjective doesn't make it an adverb by default. Actually I believe it is an adjective. Whether it describes HE or IT doesn't change its definition. It still describes a noun (pronoun in this case), not a verb.


On a general note, I seriously recommend that "tard" be grouped w/ the adverbs. As Surf has repeatedly pointed out, it is NOT an adjective. Also because, it has started a frenzy of confusion - evident from the above comnents.


What if we say it, "C'est tard"? Is it right or common in daily conversation? Thank you^^


You can hear it, although it is not quite orthodox. Impersonal expressions are always more formal than the ones starting with "c'est".


I would guess that's like, "this is late", or "that's late", like maybe when someone's proposing a curfew of 5am... "c'est trop tard".


That's because in "trop tard" you have a modified adverb.


But if the adverb is describing a person (in this case, whoever is late), not a situation, "Il est" is more accurate while "C'est" is more oral/informal.


I would like to know this, too. I was going to ask this if I didn't see it asked here already - and I'm saddened to see no reply!


it is late is translated as il se fait tard


Yes, correct, from the colloquial, relaxed register.


I just saw almost the same sentence "il est bas" which can be either "it" or "he" when translated. I'm not sure I see the difference. "il est tard" should be "it" and "he".


"il est tard": "tard" is an adverb and not an adjective which would qualify "il" as a person. this is an impersonal construction. if you mean "he is late", you use: "il est en retard".

"il est bas": may relate to a piece of furniture (a low stool, for ex) and also to a person, although that would need a context: "il est bas dans les sondages" (he is low in the polls).


Sitesurf RULES with his explanations. I get more from these, than from any other commenter, though there are lots of good ones here. DUO is lucky to have you on here.


I always thought Sitesurf was a her though :)


Excellent explanations. Thanks for those.


Sorry, Sitesurf, I'm still having problems with this, despite your excellent explanations. You say (and I believe you) that in the sentence 'Il est tard', 'tard' is an adverb. But what is the verb being modified here? The only verb in the sentence is 'is', and it seems to me that what 'tard' is modifying is an unstated noun (the hour, or the season or whatever), and thus it's acting as an adjective. I'm sure I'm missing something, but what? Tricky blighter, language, isn't it? I think perhaps RuthBryant's comment at the bottom of the thread is the way to go - sometimes we just have to learn things rather than try to fully understand them!


In many cases, verb "être" is used to qualify the subject thanks to an adjective, but there are other cases, like this one, where the verb is complemented by an adverb or an adverbial phrase as attributes of position ( in time or space, incl. figurative):

il est tard = impersonal subject + être + adverb

il est tôt = il est tôt (it is early)

il/elle est en retard = real subject + être + adverbial locution (literally, "en retard" means: "in a delay")

il/elle est retardé/e = he is delayed ("retardé" does not mean "retarded").

That structure also exists in English, where "be" is not always complemented by an adjective: it is Monday, he is in the pink, she is under my thumb...


Great explanation. Explains a recent discussion with a French colleague. I said "je suis tarde" and she quickly trained me to say je suis en retard. She explained that the way I said it implied that I was pregnant.

As in English, "I'm late" can have other connotations.


Thank you once again for your patience. This is extremely helpful.


My confusion is that in English there are two basic positions for adjectives. The first is before nouns, and the second after 'linking verbs' (be, become, seem, etc). In English when we have the be verb, we follow it with an adjective, not an adverb. We don't say 'she is slowly' or 'it is slowly'. In both cases in English we use the adjective 'slow'. It seems that in French the verb 'to be' can be followed by an adverb as well as an adjective. How do we know when? Is it that the difference between 'He is smart' and 'He is late' is that smart is a personality trait and late is a temporary description of a situation?


Late is an adverb in English too, in a sentence like "It is late."


thanks for the explanation. I was puzzled by the sentence as well.


thank you for elaborating


How about "il est pur"? How is that different to "il est tard" and your explanations for it? It appears in the same section but is translated as "He is clean" as well as "It is pure". I'm happy to be told it is just to do with French idiom - ways to say things in a language don't always make explainable sense.


Many thanks Sitesurf. It was the first occasion that I noticed that you are answering the questions right here! I began to remember that I knew the difference between 'il est tard" (impersonnel) and "il est en retard" personnel. Like: il pleut;/ il neige etc.(impersonnel ones)


In "il est en retard," what part of speech is "en" / what purpose does it serve? Googling shows it as an adverbial pronoun and preposition, which don't appear relevant.



Il est en retard=He is in (a) delay=he is late

Je suis en France=I am in France


Oh, I guess it is a preposition there. That makes sense, Thanks!


You are welcome!


I am clear now. But ADJECTIVES.


Since someone said tard is an adverb does this mean "it is late" as" in late at night" and not "it (noun e.g. the bus) is late"?


yes, you use "tard" as adverb when the subject is impersonal, your examples are appropriate to that: il est tard, tard dans la nuit, c'est trop tard, etc... or with another verb than "être", like "se réveiller tard, se coucher tard, s'y prendre trop tard..."


Two different sites use "Il est tard" specifically when giving ways that 'tard' an adverb is used. http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-anglais/tard and http://www.wordreference.com/fren/tard


So confused...... Sitesurf, please help in individually explaining this to me!


in English, "late" can be an adjective and an adverb.

in French "tôt" (early) and "tard" (late) are only adverbs

  • it is early / late (impersonal) = il est tôt / tard

  • she arrived early / late (real personal pronoun) = elle est arrivée en avance / en retard.


I like this explanation best. It was swift & simple. Thanks!


Sitesurf, the French Today site has a very helpful PDF download. Merci beaucoup.


There should be an alternative answer for this sentence structure.


How do you mean? That Duolingo would construct a new, easier way to say this that only those who have learnt French via Duolingo would understand?


Just want state that putting an adverb in the in the adjectives section is misleading, and bad form when it comes to teaching the language, hence all these confuse people.


My apologies for wasting people's time by stating what had already been said. For some reason I was not initially able to see and read the complete thread earlier today.


Il est tard . Qui est tard? Il. What is the difference between 'il est tard "/ and (person) "Il est tard." ?


What if you read the whole thread?


"il est tard" = it (the time) is late.

"il est en retard" = he (the person, bus, whatever) is running late.


Really like how the hint gives "he" as a possible alternative....


I think the hints just aren't that clever about the context they're in, and are trying to give general advice about what the word might mean in any setting (not just this one).


Could "c'est tard" mean "it is late" as well as "he is late?"


Okay, strictly because of common expressions or a grammar rule? Thanks.


A person that is late is en retard. Time, for example, is tard. Tard is an adverb while retard is an adjective, if I have fully understood this.


"un retard" is a noun. "en retard" literally translates to "in a delay".


Dang! I put "It it late"


Surely it would depend on the context?


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oui il est tard, il est parti

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