Unit 8.1

Telling the time


Telling the time consists of showing the exact hour and minutes in present time or the moment in which an event starts or finishes, as a point of reference. There are different ways to express the time in English.


  • Telling the hour + the minutes
6:23 – it’s six twenty-three
  • Telling the minutes + the hour

For minutes 1-30 we use past after the minutes.

For minutes 31-59 we use to after the minutes.

to 6:40 – it’s twenty to seven
past 6:25 – it’s twenty-five past six
  • Telling the time when it’s 15 or 30 min past the hour
a quarter past 6:15 – it’s a quarter past six
a quarter to 6:45- it’s a quarter to seven
half past 6:30 – it’s half past six
  • Telling the time when there are no minutes
o’clock 6:00 – it’s six o’clock
  • Telling the time when its 12 o’clock
it’s twelve o’clock
it’s noon/midday
it’s midnight
  • a.m. vs p.m.

We don’t use the 24h clock in English. Instead we use:

a.m. (ante meridiem – before noon) 6.00 – it’s six a.m. / it’s 6 a.m.
p.m. (post meridiem – after noon) 18.00- it’s six p.m. / it’s 6 p.m.
  • Asking for the time
What time is it?
What is the time?
What time …?
  • Giving the time
It is/ It’s + concrete time It is three o’clock
Situation (verb) + at + concrete time I’ll pick you up at three o’clock



  • It is a quarter past two (2:15)
  • The meeting begins at twenty to four (3:40)
  • It’s noon. (12 pm)


We tell the time when we want to say what time it is or when an event begins or ends.