früh/spät dran sein

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by AnnaJDT, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. AnnaJDT

    AnnaJDT Senior Member

    Hello folks!

    Can you please enlighten me on the following topic:
    "früh/spät dran sein" - be early/late

    I found this entry in the WR dictionary while I was looking for "dran".

    I don't really understand the meaning or purpose of "dran" from this or the other examples found here:

    For example, I thought that "be early / late" is said: "früh/spät sein" , so the addition of "dran" here confuses me.

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You can roughly translate this dran as at it. You can only be late for something, late for work, late in the shopping mall so all the shops have closed, etc. You cannot be late per se. This dran is a kind of place holder referring to an unspecified goal for which he is late. E.g. Er musste sich mit dem Frühstück beeilen, weil er spät dran war. This mean he had to hurry taking his breakfast because he needs to do something or be somewhere which it not specified.
  3. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    I agree with bernd that "at it" is a decent translation.

    In my opinion, it marks a placeholder/time-frame: Ich bin zu spät an der Sache, und an dieser Sache hätte ich pünktlich sein sollen

    Ich war spät daran.
  4. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Hi, it is also a fixed expression (an idiom) and I did not realize that "dran" can have a meaning on its own here until now.

    But it can have several meanings:

    Ich bin spät dran.
    1. Ich habe nur noch (sehr) wenig Zeit. 2. Ich bin unpünktlich. 3. Ich erwarte, unpünktlich zu sein. 4. Es ist schon sehr spät.

    Was zutrifft, hängt vom Kontext ab.

    Der Duden erklärt es unter anderem als "unpünktlich".ät dran sein

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