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Telling Time

Telling Time

 

 

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Requirements

 

Time


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn how to tell time in English. Time is normally expressed using the twelve-hour clock. With this in mind, let us review the most commonly used cardinal numbers used in English for telling time.

1 one

2 two

3 three

4 four

5 five

6 six

7 seven

8 eight

9 nine

10 ten

11 eleven

12 twelve

15 fifteen

30 thirty

45 forty-five

Now that we remember what some of the numbers are in English, let us listen to a short dialogue, and then we will examine each part of the conversation in more depth.

In this dialogue, David and Jennifer are discussing what time certain events take place.

David: What time is it?

Jennifer: It is one o'clock.

David: What time is the hockey game at?

Jennifer: The hockey game is at 3:30.

David: A.M. or P.M.?

Jennifer: P.M., of course!

David: What time is dinner tonight?

Jennifer: Dinner is at 7:45.

David: What time is our flight tomorrow?

Jennifer: Our flight is at midnight tomorrow. Very late!

Now, let us look at each sentence more closely.

The most common way to ask for the current time is to ask “What time is it?” Notice the use of the neuter pronoun “it” with the conjugated verb “to be” in the present tense. The pronoun and the verb have been switched in order to ask a simple question.

In English, whenever we are saying a time at the full hour, the time is followed by the word “o'clock”. For example, for the time 1:00, we say “one o'clock”.

To ask at what time a future event is taking place, simply ask “What time is...” followed by the event, followed by the preposition “at” to indicate a specific time. In this example, David wants to find out what time the hockey game is starting, so he asks “What time is the hockey game at?”

Jennifer responds “The hockey game is on at 3:30”. There are several different ways to express this time, as well each fifteen minute increment of time. We call 3:30 “three-thirty” or “half-past three”. If the game was on at 3:15, we could call it “three fifteen” or “quarter past three”. If the game was on at 3:45, we could call it “three forty-five” or “quarter to four”.

David asks “A.M. or P.M.?” He is asking whether the game is on in the morning before 12:00 or in the afternoon, after 12:00. If we want to ask a specific time, we can follow the time with either one of these, for example “The hockey game is on at 3:30pm” which means the hockey game is on in the afternoon. If we say “I eat breakfast at 8:00am” it means I eat breakfast in the morning. Jennifer responds “P.M., of course!” because it would not make much sense to have a hockey game on at 3:30am.

Then David asks “What time is dinner tonight?” Jennifer responds “Dinner is at 7:45”. Here, Jennifer could also express 7:45 as “seven forty-five” or “quarter to eight”. This is a very common way to express times ending in :45. Simply say “quarter to”, followed by the next hour. If it was 12:45, we could say it was “quarter to one”.

David's final question is “What time is our flight tomorrow?” Jennifer responds “Our flight is at midnight tomorrow. Very late!” We can express 12:00 in the morning as “midnight”, signifying the middle of the night. We can express 12:00 in the afternoon as “noon” or “midday”.

Now that we understand how to express time in English, let us listen to the dialogue once more. Practice understanding each to say times, and how to express them in numbers.


David: What time is it?

Jennifer: It is one o'clock.

David: What time is the hockey game at?

Jennifer: The hockey game is at 3:30.

David: A.M. or P.M.?

Jennifer: P.M., of course!

David: What time is dinner tonight?

Jennifer: Dinner is at 7:45.

David: What time is our flight tomorrow?

Jennifer: Our flight is at midnight tomorrow. Very late!


Wonderful! Now that you understand how to express time, it is now your turn to practice speaking in English.