Telling the time

To ask for the time we say:

‚What’s the time?‘

‚What time is it?‘

In English we usually use a 12-hour clock. (24-hour clock is used only by military.)

Morning is from midnight (12am) to noon (12pm)

afternoon is from 12.01pm to about 5pm

evening is from about 6pm to about 9pm

night is from 10pm to midnight (0.00)

a.m. = ante meridiem (in Latin)

p.m. = post meridiem (in Latin)

Every hour is divided into two 30-minute periods.

For 1st to 30th minute we use past the hour and for 31st to 59th we use to the hour.

15 minutes past the hour is ‚ quarter past……‘

30minutes past the hour is ‚half past….‘

45 minutes past the hours is ‚quarter to…….‘


5.00 a.m. = it’s five o’clock

6.05 a.m. = it’s five minutes past six in the morning

8.10 a.m. = it’s ten minutes past eight in the morning

9.15 a.m. = it’s quarter past nine in the morning

10.20 a.m. = it’s twenty minutes past ten in the morning

11.25 a.m. = it’s twenty-five past eleven in the morning

12.30 p.m. = it’s half past twelve in the afternoon

1.35 p.m. (or 13.35) = it’s twenty-five to two in the afternoon

2.40 p.m. (14.40) = it’s twenty to three in the afternoon

3.45 p.m (15.45) = it’s quarter to four in the afternoon

4.50 p.m. (16.50) = it’s ten to five in the afternoon

5.55.p.m. (17.55) = it’s five to six in the evening

6.00 p.m. (18.00) = it’s six o’clock in the evening

When talking about timetables (buses, trains, TV) we can say:

10.25am = ten twenty-five am (pronounced ‚ej em‘)

3.30pm = three thirty pm (pronounced ‚pee em‘)


train leaves at 2.30pm = we can say: ‚ the train leaves at two thirty pee em‘

Top Gear at 8pm = we can say: ‚ the Top gear show starts at eight pee em‘

bus goes at 7.30am = we can say ‚ the bus goes at seven thiry ej em‘ or ‚at half past seven‘

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