Firstly it is a regular –ar verb in Spanish so the good thing is, there are no irregular verb forms to learn in any tense.
There are 3 main uses of tardar:
1) To talk about the time it takes to do something.
2) To talk about delay.
3) To say “at the latest”.
In this blog post we will explain how to use tardar in these 3 contexts with example sentences.
This first use of “tardar” is to say how long it took to do something.
e.g. Tardé dos horas en llegar. – I took 2 hours to arrive.
Note how you need to include “en” before the infinitive verb “llegar” when you want to say that “it took a while to do something”.
You can also use it in the sense of “taking a long time to do something”:
e.g. Tardaste mucho en escribirme. – You took a long time to write to me.
The second use of “tardar” is to talk about a delay.
e.g. No debes tardar en contestar. – You shouldn’t delay in replying.
e.g. Tenemos que cambiar la fecha de la reunión sin más tardar.
We have to change the date of the meeting without out further delay.
The third use of “tardar” that we will look at is to talk about deadlines.
e.g. Tengo que terminar este informe el jueves a más tardar.
I have to finish this report by Thursday at the latest.
e.g. El tren saldrá a más tardar en diez minutos.
The train will leave in ten minutes at the latest.
As you can see, “tardar” is a really useful verb to talk about how long it takes to do things or emphasising delays and deadlines.
The best way to learn these uses and to practice them is to try to come up with example sentences of things that are relevant to you and then get a native speaker to check they are right.
You could think about how long it takes you to do things – get to work, finish a report, write an email, travel to a meeting etc.