How do you say that you are failing to do something on time or not doing something fast enough to meet time limits?

For example, what would you naturally say in the following situations:

Your train is going to leave soon. You think you don't have enough time to catch it. The chances are pretty high that you are not going to make it.

You have a lot of work to do. The deadline is looming. You feel like you're going to fail to finish it on time.

You are taking a science course. You need to learn a lot of material before the exam. You don't think it's possible to learn so much information in such a short time.

I'm sure there are a lot of expressions possible and I'd be happy if someone can share a few. However, to be more specific, I'm looking for a general way to express the idea of being in a situation when you feel time pressure.

  • Great question. One thing isn't quite clear to me, though. Are you looking for a phrase that one could say in that situation, like "I'm not gonna make it on time" or are looking for words that describe the situation, like ... Well, how would you say that in English?
    – Em1
    May 6, 2016 at 11:43
  • youtube.com/watch?v=HV4odJw4ZPo
    – tofro
    May 6, 2016 at 11:45
  • @Em1 I'm looking for common expressions like "I'm not going to make it on time / going to be too late in doing something / finishing something" or similar.
    – stillenat
    May 6, 2016 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


There is a pretty much endless number of expressions that you could use here. What comes first to my mind as a general statement which always works would be something with (nicht) schaffen or (nicht) packen (see also redensarten-index).

Ich werd’s wohl nicht schaffen.
Ich pack das nie.
Ich schaff es nicht rechtzeitig zum Bahnhof.

You can, of course, address what’s actually happening. In your first example, you would say that you’ll miss (i.e. verpassen) the train.

Ich werde wohl den Zug verpassen.

In your “work”-example, you’d say that you won’t finish the project.

Ich werde nicht rechtzeitig fertig.

As I say, this list is sheer endless. On a grammar note, use the future I (kind of will-future) and add words like wahrscheinlich, wohl, möglicherweise, vielleicht to express the degree of likelihood. You can use the present tense to indicate that it is a fact (e.g. you are definitely too far away from the train station to make it on time), or if you are desperated (e.g. you don’t think you can learn all that exam stuff in the remaining few days).

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