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How To Tell The Time

Being able to tell the time is a way of communicating. If you are telling someone the time it is usually because they have asked what the time is.

Twenty-four (24) hour time is not commonly used. However, referring to a.m. and p.m. is common.

A.M.

Refers to the morning

P.M.

Refers to the afternoon, evening or night.

There are two different ways of telling the time. Let's take a look at both ways.

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  • Twelve oh-five
  • Five past twelve
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  • Twelve ten
  • Ten past twelve
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  • Twelve fiften
  • Quarter past twelve
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  • Twelve twenty
  • Twenty past twelve
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  • Twelve twenty-five
  • Twenty-five past twelve
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  • Twelve thirty
  • Half past twelve
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  • Twelve thirty-five
  • Twenty-five to one
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  • Twelve forty
  • Twenty to one
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  • Twelve forty-five
  • Quarter to one
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  • Twelve fifty
  • Ten to one
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  • Twelve fifty-five
  • Five to one
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  • One o'clock

The first way of telling time is by saying the hour and then the minutes.

6:35 - Six thirty-five

1:25 - One twenty-five

6:35 - Twenty-five to seven

1:25 - Twenty-five past one

The second way of telling time is by saying the minutes and then the hours.

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  • From minute 01 to minute 30 we say the minutes past the current hour.
  • It is ten past four.
  • It is 4:10.
  • From minute 31 to minute 59 we say the minutes to the next hour.
  • It is ten to four.
  • It is 3:50.

When it is fifteen minutes past the current hour you would normally say quarter past and the current hour.

11:15 - It is quarter past eleven.

3:15 - It is quarter past eleven.

When it is thirty minutes past the current hour you would normally say half past and the current hour.

11:30 - It is half past eleven.

3:30 - It is half past three.

When it is fifteen minutes to the next hour you would normally say quarter to and the next hour.

11:45 - It is quarter to twelve.

3:45 - It is quarter to four.

When it is the full hour we do not need to mention the minutes instead we say the hour and o'clock.

12:00 - It is twelve o'clock.

4:00 - It is four o'clock.

There is a more casual way of telling someone the full hour which is obviously used in more casual situations.

10:00 - It's ten.

7:00 - It's seven.

There are three different expressions to use when it is twelve o'clock - 12:00.

It is twelve o'clock.

Meaning the full hour.

It is midnight.

Meaning the middle of the night.

It is midday.

It is noon.

Meaning the middle of the day.


We can use what or when to ask about a specific occasion or event.

A.M. refers to the morning.

P.M. refers to the afternoon, evening or night.