I’m searching for the English expression of the German langsam:

  • Wir sollten uns langsam auf den Weg machen.

Or the Japanese そろそろ:

  • そろそろ行きましょうか。

I guess it means something like it’s about time (to do something). I guess it’s often used at the end of a conversational topic.

Do the following sentences (which use slowly) fit the situation? What better expressions are there?

  1. Situation: You talk to a friend in a cafe for 30 minutes. Then you figure out that you should go, because you have other things to do

    • I should slowly get going.
  2. Situation: You couldn’t study English recently, because you were so busy. You want to express, that it’s about time to start studying again

    • I should slowly restart my English studying.
  3. Situation: You’re in a restaurant talking to your friend. The food already came, but your too caught up in the conversation. You then figure, it’s about time to start eating, because the food might get cold or it would get too late otherwise.

    • We should slowly start eating.

Edit: For all those with the same question: I suggest you to read all answers, not just the excepted one.

  • You may find DWDS useful: dwds.de/wb/langsam
    – Greybeard
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 18:44
  • そろそろ can mean slowly or gradually, but in your sentence it actually means soon, as in "Shall we go soon?" or, more English-y, "Shouldn't we go already?"
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


The use of slowly in these sentences is as an adverb qualifying the following verb. It does not qualify the manner or timing of beginning the action of the verb. The construction does not give the meaning that you want.

One way of suggesting a leisurely or slow approach to the action is to use the idiomatic construction “I suppose we should ...” or “Well, I suppose we should ...

Well, I suppose we should start eating.” The use of Well, ... refers to the preceding circumstances (that we are here to eat) or conversation.


English often uses deverbal constructions in everyday conversation (for instance, 'she took a walk in the park' / 'he had a shower before breakfast', where 'take' and 'have' are merely carrier verbs, known in such constructions as delexical verbs, bleached of meaning. Contrast the lexical usages, 'she took her dog to the park' and 'he had [possessed] an old Fiat'.)

Using 'make a start [on]' for 'start', and 'make a move' for 'go', are very common hedging devices, conversational softeners (/'oilers').

  • [Well], I'd better be making a move [,I suppose].

'Well' (not needing any prior context beyond time spent with the other person/s) and 'I suppose' (hinting at one's reluctance to make the necessary start / departure / ...) are, as Anton says, other common hedging devices (subclass conversational softeners). 'I'd better ...' rather than 'I have to ...' is again softer. 'I must go' is starker, more 'that's the end of the matter' (though sometimes necessary, and nowhere near as dismissive ['hurried!', abrupt] as 'I'm outta here').

  • I suppose we ought to make a start.
  • I suppose I'd better have another go at trying to understand the difference between raising and control verbs.

The self-deprecating introduction of abstruse expressions / concepts is also usually a convenient strategem for ending excessive dialogue without giving rise to ill-feeling.


We have no exact equivalent of sorosoro. 'Slowly' is only used as yukkuri is used.

As Anton says, Well, I suppose we should... is a good solution.

Well, I suppose I should be going is even more leisurely than get going or go.


Well, I suppose I should be getting back to my English-studying

is very unhurried.

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