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Time (1)

When it's "on the hour" we say "o'clock". But only when it's on the hour.

Twelve o'clock Six o'clock

One o'clock Seven o'clock

Two o'clock Eight o'clock

Three o'clock Nine o'clock

Four o'clock Ten o'clock

Five o'clock Eleven o'clock

Because it can be difficult to say whether 12 o'clock is during the day or the night, we use two special terms.

00:00 and 24:00 = Twelve midnight (or 12:00 = Twelve noon (or
midnight) noon)
Time (2)

In five minute increments, when it's past the hour (up to 30 minutes past) we say "past".

When it's before the hour (after 30 minutes past) we say "to".

There are 60 minutes in an hour.

30 minutes is half an hour, we say "half past" or "thirty".

15 minutes is quarter of an hour, we say "quarter past" or "fifteen" or "quarter to" or "forty-five".

Twelve fifteen

Twelve o'clock or

Quarter past twelve

Twelve thirty
Twelve forty-five
or
or
Half past twelve
Quarter to one
We never say "half to".
At other "odd" times, when we want to be accurate, we add the word "minute(s)":-
It's one minute
It's twenty-eight minutes to twelve.
past three.

If you want to avoid trying to remember when to use "minutes" and when not to just
say "nearly" or "just turned".

It's nearly three


It's just turned half past eleven.
o'clock.

Prepositions used with time

At a point in
In a length of time
time

"I'll see you in an


"When shall "Let's meet "It's 12.45, when
hour, at about
we meet? at 12.30." will you be ready?
1.45."

Naturally speaking
Digital clocks often show the time this way using the 24-hour-clock, only the police and the military actually speak using the
24 hour clock:-

If it's before noon we tend to say If it's after noon we say "in the
If it's late we say "at night".
"in the morning". afternoon".
07:00 14:00 22:00
It's seven o'clock in the morning It's two o'clock in the afternoon It's ten o'clock at night
15 minutes past the hour is quarter
past:
07:15 14:15
22:15
It's quarter past seven in the It's quarter past two in the
It's quarter past ten at night
morning afternoon
30 minutes past the hour is half
past:
07:30 14:30 22:30
It's half past seven in the morning It's half past two in the afternoon It's half past ten at night
45 minutes past the hour is quarter
to:
14:45
07:45 22:45
It's quarter to three in the
It's quarter to eight in the morning It's quarter to eleven at night
afternoon

How to ask the time in English.

 It's exactly eight o'clock.


or
o Excuse me. What time is it, please?
 It's eight.

 It's half past twelve.


or
o Excuse me. Do you have the time,
please?  It's twelve thirty.

 It's about half past eleven.


o Excuse me. Could you tell me the or
time, please?
 It's around eleven thirty.

Work time

There are some common words and phrases that we use to describe the hours we work.

At work in the UK we talk about starting time and leaving time.

9-to-5 is a phrase used to describe a conventional and possibly tedious job. Negatively used, it connotes a
tedious or unremarkable occupation, the idea being that, because the job is so boring, the workplace shuts
down outside of required hours. The phrase also indicates that a person is an employee, usually in a large
company, rather than self-employed. More neutrally, it connotes a job with stable hours and low career risk,
but still a position of subordinate employment.

Overtime is the time we work in addition to what is normal. Overtime is either paid, or unpaid.

Full time (full-time) is the term we use to describe the whole of someone's available working time, typically
40 hours in a week, but the European Union's working time directive imposes a 48 hour maximum working
week that applies to every member state except here in the United Kingdom (which has an opt-out meaning
that UK-based employees may work longer than 48 hours if they wish, but they cannot be forced to do so).
Part time (part-time) is the term we use to describe employment with fewer hours per week than a full-time
job.

Time off is the term we use to describe time for rest or recreation away from one's usual work or studies.

Time in lieu refers to taking time off instead of, or in addition to, receiving pay for overtime worked or
working on public or bank holidays.

Check these time idioms too.

Writing the time

morning 00:01 - 11:59


a.m. - stands for Ante Meridiem (the time between midnight and noon) 00:01 hrs - 12:00
noon or midday 12:00
p.m. - stands for Post Meridian (after noon) 12:01 - 24:00 hrs
afternoon 12:01 - 18:00
evening 18:01 - 22:00
night 22:01 - 24:00
midnight 24:00 / 00:00

There are 24 hours in a day, but only the military, police and computer programmers use the 24-hour clock.
When writing or speaking generally we tend to use the 12-hour clock. The 24 hours of the day are divided
into two periods called a.m. (Latin "ante meridiem" | English: "before mid day") and p.m. (Latin "post
meridiem" | English: "after mid day").

The way people write the time varies. I prefer a.m. and p.m.

Choose from the following styles or use what your English teacher tells you to and stick to it:-

a.m. p.m.
am pm
AM PM
A.M. P.M.

Some people (myself included) use a dot as the separator: 2.30 pm.

Some people use a colon as the separator: 2:30 pm. The colon is usually used with the 24-hour clock: 14:30.

When you are writing the time decide whether to write it using numerals or words, and stick to that.

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