How to tell the time in English
Telling the time in English can seem challenging at first because there are so many options to consider – but that’s also part of the fun. You can always start with the basics by addressing the English number for the hour, which ranges from 1 to 12 in traditional time and 1 to 24 in military time.
In this section, we’ll explore asking for the time, and break down step by step how to tell the time, so you can get the confidence to communicate about time, no matter what minute or hour of the day it is.
How to ask what the time is in English
Time, which is pronounced tīm, is very simple to ask for. You can simply say:
Some also say do you have the time?
How to tell the time of the hour
To tell the time of the hour, say the hour by number and add o’clock to the end of it. Let’s explore how to tell time on the hour, using the examples below ranging from 1-12.
|Time||Written in English|
|1:00||It’s one o’clock|
|2:00||It’s two o’clock|
|3:00||It’s three o’clock|
|4:00||It’s four o’clock|
|5:00||It’s five o’clock|
|6:00||It’s six o’clock|
|7:00||It’s seven o’clock|
|8:00||It’s eight o’clock|
|9:00||It’s nine o’clock|
|10:00||It’s ten o’clock|
|11:00||It’s eleven o’clock|
|12:00||It’s twelve o’clock|
How to say half past, quarter past, and quarter to
A big part of telling time is understanding notable milestones in the hour. These are the three most common milestones and how to say them in English.
|Time/Number||Written in English|
|1:15||It’s one-fifteen / It’s a quarter past|
|7:30||It’s seven-thirty / It’s half past seven|
|10:45||It’s ten forty-five / It’s a quarter to eleven|
How to say what time of day it is in English
In English, there are several common ways to reference the time of day depending on what portion of the day you are in. You’ll find that this can be more casual than saying the actual time itself.
|English||Time Range||Written in English|
|Morning||Sunrise until 12:00 p.m.||It’s ten o’clock in the morning|
|Afternoon||12:00 until 6:00 p.m.||Our meeting is at three o’clock in the afternoon|
|Evening||6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.||Dinner this evening will be served at six|
|Night||9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. or sunrise||It’s ten o’clock at night|
|Midday / Noon||12:00 p.m.||Let’s grab lunch at noon|
|Midnight||12:00 a.m.||The sales start at midnight|