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Daily English
English Grammar

Telling The Time

One of the things we ask the most to each other in our daily life is definitely the time. It is an essential topic to learn in any language. That’s why we prepared this article that teaches you all about telling the time in English.

How To Tell The Time In English

To tell the time in English, we have a couple of options:

1. Telling the time of the hour: Say what time it is by hour (from 1 to 12) and add “o’clock” at the end.

Example: 12:00 = Twelve o’clock
06:00 = Six o’clock
03:00 = Three o’clock
05:00 = Five o’clock
10:00 = Ten o’clock
01:00 = One o’clock
09:00 = Nine o’clock
07:00 = Seven o’clock
11:00 = Eleven o’clock
08:00 = Eight o’clock

2. Telling the quarters of the hour: We can tell the time by quarters in 3 ways:
Say half past and add the time by hour (from 1 to 12).
Say quarter past and add the time by hour (from 1 to 12).
Say quarter to and add the time by hour (from 1 to 12).

Example: 12:30 = Half past twelve
03:15 = Quarter past three
07:45 = Quarter to eight
10:15 = Quarter past ten
04:45 = Quarter to five
09:30 = Half past nine
01:15 = Quarter past one
02:45 = Quarter to three
11:30 = Half past eleven
05:45 = Quarter to six

3. Telling the time by minutes: There are three ways of telling the time by minutes:
Say the number of the minutes (from 1 to 59), add “past” and add what time it is by hour (from 1 to 12).
Say the number of the remaining minutes until the next hour(from 1 to 59), add“ to” and add the number of the next hour (from 1 to 12).
Say the time by the hour (from 1 to 12) and add the number of the minutes (from 1 to 59).

Example: 07:26 = Twenty six past seven
01:55 = Five to two
19:35 = Twenty five to eight
05:37 = Thirty seven past five
02:22 = Twenty two past two
11:36 = Thirty six past eleven
22:58 = Ten fifty eight
15:18 = Eighteen past three
06:45 = Fifteen to seven
20:38 = Eight thirty eight
09:31 = Thirty one past nine
04:32 = Twenty eight to five
19:15 = Forty five to eight
05: 28 = Thirty two to six

Asking For The Time

To ask for the time, we say “What time is it?”. A more polite way of asking the time is “Could you tell me what time it is please?”.

Example: – “What time is it?”
– “It’s 6:30.”

Example: – “Could you tell me what time it is please?”
– “Of course, it’s 3:45.

When asking for the time of a specific event, we say “What time is/does …?”

Example: – “What time is the break?”
– “The break starts at 1:30.”

Example: – “What time does the class end?”
– “It ends at 4:20.”

Giving The Time

To answer the question of “What time is it?” and “Could you tell me what time it is please?” , we say “it + is + (time)”.

– “What time is it?”
– “It’s 8:57.”

– “Could you tell me what time it is please?”
– “It’s 11:30.”

When answering the question “What time is/does …?”, we say “it + is + at + (time)”.

– “What time does the plane take off?”
– “It takes off at 2:00.”

– “What time is the exam?”
– “The exam is at 12:25.”

What Do A.M. and P.M. Stand For?

We use a.m. and p.m. to indicate whether it’s morning or afternoon. A.M. stands for ante meridiem, which means before noon, and P.M. stands for post meridiem, which means after noon. From 00:00 until 11:59 we use a.m, and from 12:00 until 23:59 we use p.m. A.m. and p.m. are necessary when using 12 hour time to prevent any confusion. We do not use them with 24 hour time as it already remarks whether it is before or after noon.

Example: “What time do we have to be there?”
“You should come at 8 p.m.”

Example: After the party, we came home at 3 a.m and fell asleep immediately.

How to Say What Time Of Day It Is In English

To just refer to the parts of the day when mentioning time, we need to learn what parts of the day correspond to what hour. There are 6 parts of the day:

Morning: From the moment the sun rises until 12 p.m.
Afternoon: From 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Evening: From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Night: From 9 p.m. until sunrise
Noon/Midday: Exactly 12 p.m.
Midnight: Exactly 12 a.m.

I need to be at work by noon.
I don’t have any plans this afternoon, we can meet up.
The bonfire is at night, at about 10 p.m.
You are invited to dinner this evening, please come at 7 p.m.
I woke up early this morning, at 5:30.
Midnight is my favorite time of the day.

Time-Related Phrases In English

Let’s check out some words and phrases in English that are about time:

Ante Meridian: Before noon
DST (Daylight Savings Time): Turning the clock ahead and back to make better use of the daylight
In the nick of time: Just in time
Horology: The study of measuring time
Synchronized: To occur at the same time, simultaneously
Around the clock: All the time, nonstop
The eleventh hour: An idiom meaning the last possible second
A mile a minute: Something happening very fast
On the dot: Exactly on time
Once in a blue moon: Rarely

Telling the Time Examples

Let’s put what we’ve learned into practice. Here you can find how to tell the time in all the ways we learned above.

14:00 = It’s two o’clock. / It’s 2 p.m.

00:00 = It’s twelve o’clock. / It’s 12 a.m. / It’s midnight.

16:47 = It’s forty seven past four.

14:15 = It’s quarter past two.

06:30 = It’s six thirty. / It’s half past six.

03:00 = It’s three o’clock. / It’s 3 a.m.

18:45 = It’s quarter to seven.

09:14 = It’s fourteen past nine.

20:30 = It’s eight thirty p.m. / It’s half past eight.

16:20 = It’s twenty past four.

Frequently Asked Questions About Telling The Time

What is telling the time?
Telling the time is the ability to read the clock and correctly identify the time. You can learn how to tell the time in different ways in our article above.

Is it saying or telling the time?
Telling the time is the correct phrase.

How to tell the time in English?
A common way of telling the time is saying the hour first and the minutes the second. You can find detailed explanations of different ways of telling the time in our article above.

How to say 10:15?
Ten fifteen, forty five to eleven and quarter past ten are three ways of saying 10:15.

Adjectives in English: Would you like to put into practice what you have learned about using Adjectives in English? If you wish, you can explore over 20,000 interactive video lessons on EnglishCentral, improve your vocabulary, and practice pronunciation. Alternatively, during live 1-on-1 English lessons, you can review what you have learned with your personal English tutor. How about signing up for EnglishCentral and starting to learn English right away?

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