How do you say 9 15 in English?

Telling the time in English is easy once you understand how English speakers refer to the different parts of the clock at different times of the day. It always follows the same pat

How do you say 9 15 in English?
Clock - telling the time

Telling the time in English is easy once you understand how English speakers refer to the different parts of the clock at different times of the day. It always follows the same pattern. So once you know how it works, you can confidently announce the time at any time of the day or night.

You might know your numbers in English, but you need more than numbers to tell the time in English. You also need to be able to ask and answer questions about time and speak about the clock in different life situation.

Read on to find out more abouttelling the time in English using the 12 hour clock and the 24 hour clock, which prepositions to use, how to ask the time, how to give the time and how the time is used commonly to talk about the working day. Weve also included a list of idioms and common phrases using the word time.

Vocabulary for telling the time in English

OClock, Past and To

For hourly times use the phrase oclock. For example: It is three oclock (pronounced: three oh clock)

For any minute past the hour but before the half hour, use the word past before the previous oclock, or read out the full numbers.

  • The phrase oclock is a shortening of the phrase of the clock. This is to differentiate it from when we used to tell time by the position of the sun and stars. We always pronounce o in this phrase as oh. In English, we sometimes call zero 0, pronounced oh, which is faster and easier than saying zero.

Examples using past:

  • five past three (3.05)  or three-oh-five
  • ten past three (3.10)  or three-ten
  • Quarter past three (3.15)  or three-fifteen (sometimes people say fifteen minutes past, but never just fifteen past)
  • Twenty past three (3.20)  or three twenty
  • Twenty-five past three (3.25)  or three twenty-five
  • Half past three (3.30)  or three thirty
Telling the Time in English - Past and To the Hour

For any minute beyond the half hour, use the word to before the next oclock.

Examples using to:

  • Twenty-five to four(3.35)  on BBC radio, the presenters often say five-and-twenty-to (or five-and-twenty-past) instead of twenty-five-to/past
  • Twenty to four (3.40)  or three forty
  • Quarter to four (3.45)  or three forty-five
  • Ten to four (3.50)  or three fifty
  • Five to four (3.55) three fifty-five

The 12 hour clock and AM / PM

When we tell the time in English, we can use the 12 hour clock or the 24 hour clock.

The 12 hour clock splits the day into two 12 hour sections. One lasts from midnight to noon and the second half lasts from noon to midnight.

In the 12 hour clock, we need a way to differentiate between morning and evening, so we use the letter am and pm to show whether 11.20 is in the morning or at night.

Hours before noon are called a.m. (pronounced ay-em), which comes from the Lain ante meridiem, which means before midday.

Hours after noon are called p.m. (pronounced pee-em), which comes from the Lain post meridiem, which means after midday.

Often we write these shortenings without the full stops in between the letters, so they are often written in common usage as am and pm.

So 11.20 in the morning is 11.20 am (eleven twenty or twenty past eleven)

and 11.20 at night is 11.20 pmTelling time in English

The 24 hour clock

If we use the 24 hour clock to tell the time in English, there is no need to use am and pm. This is because 11.20am is simply 11.20, and 11.20 pm is 23.20.

When we get past 12 noon the time does not go back to 1, but instead moves onto 13, often written with an h after the number, for example 13h.

In Britain we often use the 12 hour clock (except for transport timetables when the 24 hour clock is always used) but in other European countries it is common to use the 24 hour clock in social situations when writing about the time. Here the suffix h is often used, for example 14h or 14.30h. However when speaking, the 12 hour clock is always used.

When it is in the morning and there is only a single digit number in use (e.g. one through to nine) the 24 hour clock uses a zero first in formal situations, such as a train timetable, for example, 08.30.

How to Read a Train Timetable

Examples from the train timetable above:

The first train departs London Euston at 0640 (six forty, twenty to seven, or 6.40 am) and arrives at Watford Junction at 0655 (six fifty-five, five to seven, or 6.55 am)

The train that departs fromBirmingham International at 1739 (seventeen thirty-nine, five thirty-nine, 5.39 pm, or twenty-one minutes to six) arrives at Birmingham New Street at 1751 (seventeen fifty-one, five fifty-one, 5.51 pm, or nine minutes to six).

The last train to depart Milton Keynes Central at 2248 (twenty-two forty-eight, ten forty-eight, 10.48 pm, or twelve minutes to eleven) arrives at Coventry at 2352 (twenty-three fifty-two, eleven fifty-two, 11.52 pm, eight minutes to midnight/twelve).

  • If we want to read out the time using the 24 hour clock, instead of using oclock we can say hundred hours. For example, 14:00 would be fourteen hundred hours and midnight would be zero hundred hours. For 0800 we can say oh eight hundred hours. Each digit is pronounced. This usage is rare in every day speech though and would normally only be used in specialist situations, such as in the military.This is why it is often called military time.

How to separate the numbers when writing the time?

Some people use a dot as punctuation to separate the numbers when writing a digital time (2.30 pm), other people use a colon (14:30)  colons are especially popular in 24 hour clock format.

Sometimes people use nothing at all to separate numbers using the 24 hour clock (1430). Whichever format you chose when writing the time in English, try to keep it consistent.

Examples of telling time in English with ananalogue clock

Consider the clock faces on the left. Here, the first clock can show: five past ten / ten o five / 10.05 / 22.05

The second clock shows: four forty-five / quarter to five / 4.45 am / 4.45 pm or 04.45 / 16:45

The third clock shows: quarter past twelve / 12.15 am / 12.15 pm / 00.15

The fourth clock shows: twenty-five past eight / 8.25 am / 8.25 pm / 20.25

  • When it is 5 minutes past the hour, we never say the numbers only (six five) we would have to say six oh five, using the sound oh to represent the zero for 6.05. More commonly, we would say five past six.
  • We only tend to use to or past with minutes that are multiples of five (e.g. 10 to five, 20 to five, 25 past four) but quarter to and quarter past when it is 15 minutes, and half past when 30 minutes.
  • We would always say the word minutes after the oclock if it is not a multiple of five. For example, we would say 17 minutes past 5 and 23 minutes past 5.

Prepositions for telling the time in English

We normally use the preposition at with times for making plans for a specific time. For example, I am meeting them at two oclock.

But we use the word in for a less definite amount of time. For example, I am meeting them in two hours. This implies a a more general time.

How to talk about the general time of day

We use the preposition in for a general time of day. For example in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.

If it is late, we normally say at night, for example its ten oclock at night to mean 10 pm. We also say in the night to mean in the middle of the night in general.

We can add the phrase in the morning to mean a time before noon. If the time is very early, for example before 6am, we can say early morning. If the time is in the middle of the night, for example 1 am until 3 am, we can say it is in the early hours.

  • At the crack of dawn means very early in the morning, just as daylight is breaking. (For example: Youll have to be up at the crack of dawn to get there in time for lunch)

We say in the afternoon for a time between noon and 6 pm, and in the evening for a time after around 6 pm. The phrase at night starts to be used later on, after around 9 pm. People might use the word afternoon later in the summer because it stays light later.

Other general times would be around 3pm or around noon. For example, someone might ask you: What time are we meeting tonight? You could reply: Around 6pm or About half seven

For general amounts of time, we can use various phrases that arent exact, often starting with about or around. For example:

  • It will take about half an hour / about 30 minutes
  • Ill meet you in about a quarter of an hour / about 15 minutes
  • Well be there in about an hour
  • It should be about an hour and a half / about 90 minutes
  • It will only take a few minutes
  • They will be ready in a couple of minutes (a couple means two, but people sometimes use couple to mean slightly more when talking about time or quantity)
Telling the time in English - day and night - am and pm

Daylight saving time

At the start of spring, we put the clocks forward one hour to British Summer Time (BST). At the start of winter, we put the clocks back one hour again. This habit of changing the clocks back and forth is in order to use the daylight more effectively. Find out more about changing the clocks and Daylight Saving Time.

How to ask the time in English

There are a few phrases that we can use to ask the time. Here are some examples:

  • Can you tell me the time, please?
  • Could you tell me the time, please?
  • Excuse me, do you have the time?
  • Have you got the time?
  • Do you know the time?
  • Do you know what the time is?
  • Whats the time?
  • Got the time?
  • Although got the time? is an informal and direct way of asking someone the time, this is similar to another phrase have you got time? which means do you have enough time (to do something)?

To answer someone elses question and give them the time, we need to use the word it is or more commonly, its to introduce the time.

For example:

  • Its four oclock
  • Its half past two
  • Its about seven
  • Its exactly eight oclock
  • Its around ten thirty
  • Its 1.05 (one oh five)

If you cant help them, you might want to say:

  • Sorry, I dont have the time
  • Im sorry, I dont have my watch on
  • Sorry, Im not wearing a watch
  • Im sorry, I cant see the clock from here

Time used to describe the working day

There are a few phrases we use related to time in English speaking countries. Traditionally the working day is called 9 to 5. This means 9 am until 5 pm. These are the opening hours of most shops. (Many shops in the UK now regularly open until 5.30pm or 6pm. There is also often a late night shopping day once a week when shops will open until 8pm or 9pm).

The hours of 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday are often called office hours. Of course, office hours today can also mean until 6 pm or later, but traditionally it was always from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon/evening.

These office hours were also used in the famous film and song by Dolly Parton 9 to 5 where she sings working nine to five, what a way to make a living. The phrase to make a living means to earn money.

The phrase is used in the song in a negative way to imply working hard for little pay and for someone elses benefit.

As Dolly sings in 9 to 5:

Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5

Workin 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin
Barely gettin by, its all takin and no givin
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
Its enough to drive you crazy if you let it

9 to 5, for service and devotion
You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion
Want to move ahead but the boss wont seem to let me
I swear sometimes that man is out to get me!

Other phrases related to work are full time and part time. A full-time job usually means a job that you do every day for around 40 hours per week.

A part-time job means a job that that you do for fewer hours than a full time job. This might be three days a week or perhaps four hours per day, instead of the usual eight hours per day fora full-time job.

If someone is taking time off, it means they are taking a break from work or study.

Phrases and idioms using the word time

Other phrases with the word time include:

Having the time of mylifehaving an amazing time (Are you enjoying the concert? Yes, Im having the time of my life!)

A race against time a situation where you have to rush to finish something (It was a race against time to finish the essay before the deadline)

Time will tell the passing of time will show the result (Only time will tell whether Brexit is a good or bad thing for the UK)

To be / run out of time  to have no time left, when you have missed a deadline or come to the end of a time limitation (I didnt finish the exam  I ran out of time); to be out of step with the musical rhythm (He is a terrible dancer, he is always out of time)

To be running out of time  to have little time left (Hurry up, youre running out of time)

Take your time  dont hurry (Take your time  theres no rush, therere not expecting us until 9pm)

Taking your own sweet time  taking a long time to do something (Hes taking his own sweet time about it, isnt he? The job shouldve been finished on Tuesday)  usually said with annoyance about someone when they are taking too long to do something.

Behind the times  old-fashioned, not up-to-date (He cant even use a computer; hes really behind the times)

To have time  Do you have enough time (to do something)? (Have you got time to help me fix the car? / We could drop them off at my house first, if weve got time)

In the nick of time at the last moment, just before the deadline (I caught the train in the nick of time, secondsbefore it left the station)

To stand the test of time to continue successfullyfor a long time (This film is still relevant today  it has really stood the test of time)

To have time on your hands to have a lot of spare time, to have too much free time (He is always gossiping with his colleagues  he must have a lot of time on his hands)

Time flies time passes quickly (time flies when youre having fun  this is a common idiom used to describe something that is so enjoyable that time feels like time passes more quickly than it really does)

Taking time off  taking a break from something (I wont be at work next week, Im taking some time off)

From time to time  occasionally, now and then, every so often (He visits his friends in London from time to time)

Let us know your thoughts about time

Hopefully you feel more confident about telling time and talking about time in English. Do let us know if you have any other time-related questions or anything else you want us to over on this page.

Are you comfortable using am and pm, 24 hour clock and military time?

What other time-related phrases or idioms have you heard?

Do you find telling the time difficult in English? Do you have any tips for non-native speakers?

Which time-related words or phrases do you find most confusing?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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