Telling The Time in English

Telling the time means to say what the time is.




Asking The Time: ( How do we ask the time?)

We can use some questions for asking the time which are given below;

Questions:

  • What time is it?
  • What is the time?
  • Do you have the time?
  • Do you know what time is it?
  • Can you tell me what time is it, please?
  • Could you tell me the time, please?
  • Do you happen to have the time?
  • Have you got the right time?
  • What time do you make it?

Answering the questions: ( How do we say what time is ? )

Examples:

  • It’s exactly or about or almost or just gone …
  • Sure, it is 3:00
  • Sorry, I am not wearing a watch.
  • 2:30
  • It is 4:20
  • It is ten past ten.
  • The time is 8 o’clock.




At Full Hours : ( O’clock /… :00)

O’clock ‘ is used at full hours. It means there are no minutes.

FORM OF THE ANSWER:

It is ………. o’clock.

Examples:

  • It is eleven o’clock. ( 11:00 )
  • It is three o’clock (03:00 )
  • It is five o’clock.( 05:00 )

Note: In English, time is expressed with 12-hour time zones.

Time Formal Less Formal
01:00 it is one o’clock one
02:00 it is two o’clock two
03:00 it is three o’clock three
04:00 it is four o’clock four
05:00 it is five o’clock five
06:00 it is six o’clock six
07:00 it is seven o’clock seven
08:00 it is eight o’clock eight
09:00 it is nine o’clock nine
10:00 it is ten o’clock ten
11:00 it is eleven o’clock eleven
12:00 it is twelve o’clock twelve


At Half Hours: ( 30 minutes passed the hour)

‘Half past’ expression is used when clock shows half hours.

FORM OF THE ANSWER:

It is half past……. .

Examples:

  • It is half past two. ( 02:30 )
  • It is half past six. ( 06:30 )
  • It is half past one.( 01:30 )
Time Formal Less Formal
01:30 it is half past one one thirty
02:30 it is half past two two thirty
03:30 it is half past three three thirty
04:30 it is half past four four thirty
05:30 it is half past five five thirty
06:30 it is half past six six thirty
07:30 it is half past seven seven thirty
08:30 it is half past eight eight thirty
09:30 it is half past nine nine thirty
10:30 it is half past ten ten thirty
11:30 it is half past eleven eleven thirty
12:30 it is half past twelwe twelve thirty

At Quarter Hours: ( 15 minutes after the hour or 15 minutes before the hour)

‘a quarter to’ and ‘a quarter past’ expressions are used when clock shows quarter hours.

FORMS OF THE ANSWER:    

It is (a) quarter past ………. . ( 15 minutes after the hour )
It is(a) quarter to ………  .      ( 15 minutes before the hour)

Examples:

  • It is (a) quarter past  nine. ( 9:15 )
  • It is (a) quarter to five. ( 04:45 )
  • It is (a)  quarter past eight. ( 08:15 )
Time Formal Less Formal
12:45/01:15 it is (a) quarter past one /(a) quarter to one   twelve forty-five / one fifteen
01:45/02:15 it is (a) quarter past two /(a) quarter to two   one forty-five / two fifteen
02:45/03:15 it is (a) quarter past three /(a) quarter to three   two forty-five / three fifteen
03:45/04:15 it is (a) quarter past four /(a) quarter to four   three forty-five / four fifteen
04:45/05:15 it is (a) quarter past five /(a) quarter to five   four forty-five / five fifteen
05:45/06:15 it is (a) quarter past six /(a) quarter to six   five forty-five / six fifteen
06:45/07:15 it is (a) quarter past seven /(a) quarter to seven  six forty-five / seven fifteen
07:45/08:15 it is (a) quarter past eight /(a) quarter to eight  seven forty-five / eight fifteen
08:45/09:15 it is (a) quarter past nine /(a) quarter to nine   eight forty-five / nine fifteen
09:45/10:15 it is (a) quarter past ten /(a) quarter to ten   nine forty-five / ten fifteen
10:45/11:15 it is (a) quarter past eleven /(a) quarter to eleven   ten forty-five / eleven fifteen
11:45/12:15 it is (a) quarter past twelve /(a) quarter to twelve   eleven forty-five / twelve fifteen

At Other Hours: ( Past / To)

We use PAST for ( 01 minute to 30 minutes )

We use TO for ( 31 to 59 minutes )

FORM OF THE ANSWER : 

It is …….. minutes  past / to ……..

Examples:

  • It is 4 minutes to eight. ( 07:56 ) ( less formal: It is seven fifty-six )
  • It is seven minutes past eleven. ( 11: 07 ) ( less formal: It is eleven O-seven ) (0 is pronounced like the letter”O” not “zero.”)
  • It is nine minutes to three. ( 2:51) (less formal: It is fifty-one)

Notes:

1. For multiplies of 5, we leave out the word ‘minutes’

Examples:

  • It is five to ten. ( 09:55 )
  • It is twenty past eight. ( 08:20 )
  • Is is twenty five to seven. ( 06:35 )

2. We can say also

  • ‘a guarter past…..’ instead of  ‘fifteen past … ( 15 minutes past….)’
  • ‘a quarter to….’ instead of  ‘fifteen to…. ( 15 minutes to….)’
  • ‘half past…..’ instead of  ‘thirty  past….( 30 minutes past….)’

Examples:

  • It is a guarter to four = It is fifteen to four ( 03:45 )
  • It is a guater past nine = It is fifteen past nine ( 09:15 )
  • It is half past eleven = It is thirty past eleven  ( 11:30 )

3. In American English;

‘After’ is used instead of ‘Past’

‘Before’ is used instead of ‘To’

Examples:

  • It is ten after two. ( 02:10 )
  • It is a quater before five ( 04:45 )
  • It is eight before six. ( 05:52 )


There are two common ways of telling the time. We usually say the minutes first and then The hours. However, We also say the hours first and then the minutes (Less formal).

Examples:

  • ( 05:10 ) It is ten past five. ( minutes + PAST / TO + hours )
  • ( 05: 10 ) It is five ten.  ( hours + minutes ) ( less formal )


Note 1: 
When  saying the time ‘ the hours first and then the minutes’, 0 is pronounced like the letter”O” not “zero.”

Examples:

  • ( 06:04 ) It is six 0-four = It is four minutes past six
  • ( 07:09) It is seven 0-nine = It is nine minutes past to seven

Note 2: A o’clock has two hands. The short hand shows hours and the long hand shows minutes.

A.M ( AM/ a.m / am ) and P.M ( PM/ p.m / pm )

Since the 24-hour time zone is not used in English ( time is expressed with 12-hour time zones in english) the hours must be divided into two;

‘before noon’  and ‘after noon’.

For the hours before noon ( 00:01 – 12:00),  we use a.m. (Ante meridiem)

For the hours after noon ( 12:01 -24:00 ), we use p.m. (Post meridiem)

Examples:

  • 02:00 am = It is two o’clock before noon
  • 02:00 pm = It is two o’clock after noon
  • ( 2 am, 08:00 pm, 6 PM, 3 A.M, etc… )

Note: “a.m.” and “p.m.” markers can not be used with “past / to”

The Times in English

Time Hours
morning 00:01 – 11:59
noon or midday 12:00
afternoon 12:01 – 18:00
evening 18:01 – 22:00
night 22:01 – 24:00
midnight 24:00 / 00:00
a.m. – (the time between midnight and noon) 00:01 – 12:00
p.m. – (the time after noon ( not afternoon )) 12:01 – 24:00


We can use dot or colon as a seperator between hours and minutes.

Examples:

  • 10.30 or 10:30


We use the structure “AT” with time when giving the time of a specific event.

Examples:

  • The train arrives at midday. ( 12:00 )
  • The plane will take off at a quarter past six ( 06:15 )
  • The show started at 3 o’clock.
  • The boss called me at 8 a.m.
  • He works from 9 am to 6 pm.

13 thoughts on “Telling The Time in English

  • March 8, 2017 at 11:32 am
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    Reply
  • March 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm
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    Reply
  • March 13, 2017 at 6:58 am
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    Very useful for the day to day conversation………….

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    Reply
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  • June 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm
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    Thanks a lot for easy learning )))

    Reply
  • July 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm
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    Thanks. By this site I could known about the exact way for telling the time. It was very usefull for me.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2017 at 7:12 am
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    Reply
  • September 15, 2017 at 7:57 am
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    the time after three hours eleven thirty ?

    Reply

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