How To Tell Time in English

Learning to tell time in English is easy once you know how to count to thirty. Simply figure out what time is displayed on the clock, and then use the proper English construction to convert this into words. Here's how to tell time in English:

  1. Determine what the clock says. This is easy if you're using a digital clock. If you are using an analog clock (the round style with hands), you'll need to learn how to figure out what the clock says before you can put this into words. The shorter hand points to the hour, while the longer hand will tell you how many minutes it is past the hour.
  2. Start with the hour. In English, we usually tell time according to how many minutes it is before or after the closest hour. Your first step to telling time in English is to know what time it is. To construct the phrase that explains what time it is, you'll want to start with the hour, and then determine how many minutes before or after the hour it is.
  3. Add the minutes. In English, there are several ways to do this. You can use “past” to say how many minutes after the hour it is, such as “half past six” or “ten minutes past eleven.” This should only be used for times that are up to 30 minutes past the hour. For times that are more than 30 minutes past the hour, you can use “to” or “till” to say how many minutes are left until the full hour. This is only used for times that are 29 minutes or less until the full hour. For example, “ten till five” or “twenty to seven.”
  4. Use the word o'clock. In the examples given in step 3, you can add the word “o'clock” directly after the hour. For example, “half past six o'clock” or “ten minutes till five o'clock.” This step is optional, but can help clarify the fact that you're talking about time. You can also use the word 'minutes' to clarify that you're speaking about time, for example “ten minutes past five.”
  5. Use hour-minute structure instead. Rather than connecting the time with words like “past” or “till,” you can also connect the hour with the minutes. For example, "seven twenty-five" means 7:25, and "twelve fifteen" means 12:15.
  6. Refer to special times. In English, there are a few words that mean certain times. Midnight is 12:00am, and noon is 12:00pm. You can also refer to the different times of day, such as in the morning, in the evening, or at night. For example, “five o'clock in the evening.” For times that are fifteen, thirty, or forty-five minutes past the hour, you can say a quarter past, half past, or a quarter till.

Telling time in English is relatively easy, though it can take some time to get used to the format. It helps to have a strong knowledge of the numbers (up to 30) before you practice telling time.


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