In a textbook a person said to a waiter:

Could you bring the check with coffee? We're running late.

I'm not sure about its implication. Does this sentence mean that I don't have much time?

Also, if I say to someone on the phone "I'm running late." does it mean I'm not sure whether I'm late or not, but I might be there on time?

Regarding "running" there is "We're running out of time." and "We're running short of time."
Is there any difference between them?

Is it correct to use the following sentence?

We're running 10 minutes over.

Instead of this sentence, could I use the following ones?

It's 10 minutes overtime.

We're 10 minutes overtime.

2 Answers 2


Could you bring the check with coffee? We're running late.

This does not imply that the person speaking and the person/people with him are late for some event. However, the speaking person believes that under the expected conditions (traffic, speed limit, distance to travel, etc) that the speaker and those with him will possibly be late for the event.

I'm running late.

Yes, this could mean "I expected to leave to go to the movie five minutes ago, but if I drive fast, I think I will be there on time."

We're running out of time.

Used for some dramatic event with a clear deadline such as a time bomb getting ready to explode or a timed test at school.

We're running short on time.

This idiomatic expression uses on, instead of of.

This phrase is used for less dramatic events or for events where there is more time remaining, than the previous phrase. For example, if the time bomb had just reached the one minute mark, this would be fine. If the time bomb was near fifteen seconds, I would use "out of time."

We're running 10 minutes over.

This is correct, but may not mean what you intend. Suppose you were in a meeting that was scheduled from 2:00 to 3:00. If it is 3:10 and the meeting is not over (ended), then this phrase would be good.

"It's 10 minutes overtime. or We're 10 minutes overtime."?

Overtime as a single word, means something different.

So, "It's 10 minutes overtime," might be the answer to "Hey John, how far is the game into the fourth quarter?" (basketball).

It could also answer the question "Hey James, you are only scheduled to work until 6:00, what are you still doing here?" (employment).

  • I have heard We're 10 minutes overtime used for meetings, as well. If the meeting was scheduled to end at 4 but now it is 4:10. If this is correct, then is there a difference between We're 10 minutes overtime and We are running 10 minutes over?
    – fluffy
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 8:47
  • 1
    There is not a difference between "We're 10 minutes over time" and "We are running 10 minutes over". However, notice the space in "over time", not "overtime".
    – Xantix
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 8:49
  • I also thought they should be two words and was surprised to see them written as one in a similar context. Maybe they simply made a mistake writing it like that.
    – fluffy
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 8:51
  • It might have been a spelling mistake. But, there is a distinct difference in pronunciation. "Over time" has a stressed sound on first syllable of both words with a glottal stop between words. "Overtime" has a stressed sound on just the first syllable.
    – Xantix
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 8:56
  • Thank you for all your comments. Overtime is not a spelling mistake. Now I think that this is my misunderstanding. There's a sentence like " I worked overtime yesterday." So What I meant is the same meaning of this "overtime." Then also in the sentence " We're running out of time." what I meant is meeting or class situations. Then I thought a teacher might use this sentence. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:48

Could you bring the check with coffee? We're running late.

This means that if they do not hurry, they are not going to be on time. There is the risk of being late.

if I say to someone," I'm running late." on the phone

that means that something is taking longer than expected and there is again the risk of being late. For example, if you have to be somewhere at 10 o'clock, you need 20 minutes to get there and now it is already 9:45, then you are running late. You might eventually be late but not necessarily.

We're running out of time.

means that soon there won't be any time left. We ran out of time would mean that all our time was used up and there was none left, for example I ran out of time and could not finish the exam.

We're running short of time.

In this case it means the same as the previous sentence. A sentence like "You are not short of time, you are out of time!" would mean that you do not have very little time left, you have no time left.

  • 1
    I don't completely agree with this. In my opinion, when somebody says he is "running late," it usually means that he is already late for something or that he will inevitably be late to something.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 18:39

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