I had this question in a speaking test "Do you think it's important to be on time?" In the following answer, What is the idiomatic way to say the latest expression in British English?

Answer: Yes of course, it is important to be on time especially in the business world because you would probably lose a client if you

  • were late on him
  • were late for your meeting with them
  • made him wait
  • For US English (which is not what you asked), "if you were running late" is a common expression. It usually means that you have not yet arrived at the appointment and will be late. Sep 13, 2019 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


Of your three suggestions, only the first is not idiomatic.

  • you were late on him
  • you were late for your meeting with them
  • you made him wait

The other two are fine grammatically, however, I would probably be more likely to say:

You would probably lose a client if you were not punctual.

My reason for preferring this is that "lateness" is sometimes unavoidable, and not your fault. Arguably, some clients would be very understanding if you were late in certain circumstances. However. "punctuality" is a quality held by a person that drives them to ensure that they are on-time. I feel that a better answer, especially in the context of a job interview, is to show that you have, or respect this quality.

  • 'you were late' is a fact for which there might be some excuse acceptable to the client. 'you made him wait' suggests that you were careless about getting to see him on time. That is what loses clients.
    – JeremyC
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:03

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