How to Tell Time in English

It’s now a necessity to learn the world-wide known English. Accordingly, whether your dream is traveling around the world, or getting a successful career, you should have enough skills to write and read English correctly and actively.

A sophisticated studying program, it is a must to learn how to speak and use English effectively. At this point, clocks are one of the most common concepts in English. The concept of clocks, which we need to know while especially talking in English, is part of the subjects we have at beginner classes.

Now, let’s take a look at what English clocks and time express, how and when they are used.

Time Concept in English

When we think about “time” , the things that come to our mind are seconds, minutes, hours, months and years. All of these words’ usage and basis depend on the word “time”.  So, let’s take a look at this example:

-Today, people spend more time on the internet. (Bugünlerde insanlar internette daha fazla zaman geçiriyor)

The usage of “time” can mean plural in some situations. But in this case, we use “time” similarly as well. The difference is only in the meaning of the sentence.

-He hasn’t seen his children for a long time. (times) (O çocuklarını uzun süredir görmüyor)

Asking Time in English

The common sentence to ask somebody the time is: “What time is it?” in English. Yet, there are other sentences to ask this same question. Let’s study some of these sentences:

  • What’s the time? (Saat kaç?)
  • Do you have the time? (Saat kaç? / Saatiniz var mı?)
  • What time do you have? (Saatiniz kaç?)
  • Do you know what time is it? (Saatin kaç olduğunu biliyor musunuz?)
  • Have you got the time? (Saat kaç? / Saatiniz var mı?)
  • Could you tell me the time please? (Bana saati söyleyebilir misiniz?)
  • Can you tell me what time is it, please? (Saatin kaç olduğunu söyler misiniz lütfen?)

Besides, we shouldn’t forget that these sentences are used in daily language and in literary language, “What time is it?” is used.

Saying The Time in English

There are two different ways while saying the time. First of those is the method of saying the hour first, and then the minute. This is the digital clock method. And in the other method according to some patterns of rules we translate.

Let’s see the examples of the first method:

  • 20: three twenty
  • 30: five thirty
  • 08:35: eight thirty five

The hours after 12 are read by 12 hour time format:

  • 18:20 – twenty past six
  • 15:10 – ten past three

How to Read and Write the O’Clocks

In English, time is expressed by “it”. Thus, we read full hours by saying “It’s … o’clock. Here are the examples:

  • 07:00 – It’s seven o’clock = (Saat yedi)
  • 10:00 – It’s ten o’clock = (Saat on)

At the beginning of midnight and afternoon, we use the terms.

  • 24:00 = It’s midnight (Gece yarısı)
  • 12:00 = It’s midday (Öğle)

Writing and Reading Half Hours

We use “half past …” in English like “buçuk” in Turkish while expressing half hours. In this pattern, we first express the half part, and then we say the main hour.

03:30 – It’s half past three (Saat üç buçuk)

07:30 – It’s half past seven (Saat yedi buçuk)

Reading and Writing the Time Before Half

The equivalent of the term in Turkish “… geçiyor” is the pattern of “It is … past…”. This usage is used except quarters. At the quarters, we use a different term. In this pattern, we again say the minute first, and then we say the hour.

  • 03:10 – It’s twenty past ten ( Saat üçü on geçiyor)
  • 10:20 – It’s twenty past ten (Saat onu yirmi geçiyor)

In another form of saying “…past…”, if it is not multiples of 5, we use “minutes” additionally.

  • 03:16 – It is sixteen minutes past three ( Üçü onaltı geçiyor)
  • 09:22 – It is twenty two minutes past nnine (Dokuzu yirmiiki geçiyor)

Reading and Writing the Quarters Before Half Time

To express the quarters, we use “It is quarter past …”. Those are the examples:

  • 03:15 – It’s quarter past three ( Saat üçü çeyrek geçiyor)
  • 09:15 – It’s quarter past nine (Saat dokuzu çeyrek geçiyor)

Reading and Writing the Time After Half

The pattern to express the time after half is “It is … to …”. Like the time before the half, we use “minutes” additionally if the minute is not multiples of 5.

We can use these examples:

  • 03:40 – It’s twenty to four (Saat dörde yirmi var)
  • 10:50 – It’s ten to eleven (Saat onbire on var)

The examples with “minutes”:

  • 11:47 – It’s thirteen minutes to twelve (Saat onikiye onüç var)
  • 09:34 – It’s twenty six minutes to ten (Saat ona yirmialtı var)

The Quarters After Half Time

The usage of quarters after half past differs, as well. In English “It is quarter to…” is equivalent to “…kala” in Turkish.

To exemplify this usage:

  • 10:45 – It’s quarter to eleven (Saat onbire çeyrek var)
  • 03:45 – It’s quarter to four (Saat dörde çeyrek var)

The Difference between Day and Night in English (A.M. P.M.)

The A.M. and P.M. terms that we usually see in correspondences and formal writings are used to distinguish the night time and the day time. Accordingly, while expressing the time between 24.00 and 12:00 we use A.M. we use P.M. to express the time between 12.00 and 00.00.

Let’s exemplify this usage:

  • He leaves home at 08:00 a.m – O evden saat sekizde çıkıyor. (sabah saat sekiz)
  • He comes home at 07:00 p.m – O eve saat yedide dönüyor (akşam saat yedi)
  • The plane leaves at 02:00 a.m – Uçak saat ikide kalkıyor. (gece saat iki)


You can now start speaking with English Ninjas’ teachers whose native language is English, and you can improve your English by practicing the times and many other subjects.

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