Revise these time expressions - Telling the time # 1


Requires Real Player Basic

Telling the time to the half hour or quarter hour

There are 15 minutes in quarter of an hour.

There are 30 minutes in half an hour.

There are 45 minutes in three quarters of an hour.

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".

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

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

Clock Face
Telling the time Twelve o'clock Telling the time Twelve fifteen


Quarter past twelve
Telling the time Twelve thirty


Half past twelve
Telling the time Twelve forty-five


Quarter to one

!Note - you don't mention the "minutes".

Naturally speaking

Exactly or about

Exactly About
It's exactly two o'clock.
It's about half past two.

How to ask the time - requires Real Player Basic

Telling the time
  • It's exactly eight o'clock.

  • It's eight.
Telling the time
  • It's half past twelve.

  • It's twelve thirty.
Telling the time
  • It's about half past eleven.

  • It's about eleven thirty.


Writing the time


00:01 - 11:59

write a.m. - stands for Ante Meridiem (the time between midnight and noon)

00:01 to 11:59

write noon or midday


write p.m. - stands for Post Meridian (after noon)

12:01 - 23:59

write midnight



Speaking about the time generally

If you say "Good morning" at 1 am, people will think you are strange. Different rules apply, which are more to do with how light it is. See also "Greetings".

Daytime - the time between sunrise and sunset

Starts at sunrise / dawn

morning - the time between sunrise and noon

sunrise - 11:59

afternoon - the time between noon and sunset

12:01 - sunset

Nighttime - the time between sunset and sunrise

Starts at sunset / dusk

evening - the time between sunset and night (full darkness)

sunset - darkness

night - the time after evening and before sunrise

dark - sunrise


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
A.M. P.M.

Some people 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.

Your challenge: Tell us the time your bus, tram, train, plane arrives?

!Note - All posts are moderated and then corrected. One correction per person per lesson.

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Week 17