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Free ESL Business English Lesson - A Little Late  

A Little Late

When you work for a company, there are times when you are late or you can't make it to a meeting. Sometimes you are sick, or sometimes you are stuck in traffic. We will study sentences you need to know to say why you are late or can't make it to work.

Late

Some jobs require you to 'punch in' when you get to work. 'Punching in' keeps track of how long you worked. Many hourly jobs use this system. But if you are a salary person and do not have to 'punch in', then you have more flexibility. Let's say you are going to be five minutes late. If you have your own office, then nobody will know. But if you work in a setting where your boss sees you coming in, then you will need an excuse. We'll cover everything about being late here.

Five minutes late

If you are going to be just a little late, then you don't need to call in. However, you will need to tell them why you are late when you get in the office. Here are some examples.

"Sorry I'm late. Traffic was unusually bad today."
"I apologize for being late. I had to drop off my wife at work. It took longer than I thought."
"I had a dentist appointment this morning and it was longer than I expected."
"I'm sorry for being late. I got stuck in every light this morning."

If you are the boss, then you might want to ask why your employee is late. Let's see some of these sentences.

"Running late this morning?"
"What held you up this morning?"
"Do you have a reason for being late?"
"Why are you late?"

A boss or manager will not be too upset if you are late only once or very rarely. But if this is a constant habit, they might be a little more upset.

"You have been late three times in the last two weeks. Is this going to be a continual problem?"
"Your tardiness is getting out of hand. You better start managing your morning time better."
"I expect you to be at your desk at eight o'clock. Do you have a problem with this?"

If you hear one of these statements, then you better say something that will calm the boss down. Also, you shouldn't let this happen again so tell him or her it won't happen again.

"I am terribly sorry. It won't happen again."
"I had a lot of recent changes at home, but it's all taken care of. I will not be late again."
"I'm really sorry. It's been one of those weeks. It won't happen again."
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