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How to Say “Time” in Chinese – Hour, Minutes, Seconds and Different Period of A Day?

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How to Say Time in Chinese – Hour, Minutes, Seconds?

How to say Time in Chinese? Time in Mandarin is 时间 Shíjiān.To say the Time – Hour, Minutes, Seconds in Chinese, you must be familiar with the numbers in Chinese from 1 to 60. We will discuss in detail the various segments about time in Chinese.

Related Post: How to Say Date – Year, Month, Day and Days of the Week in Chinese.

How to Ask for Time in Chinese?

» Polite Way to Ask Strangers

When you are outside and forget to bring your watch, how do you ask for the Time in Chinese from a stranger? If you want to interrupt people to ask a question, you can use the phrase 不好意思 Bù hǎoyìsi which means “Excuse me / Pardon” or “I am sorry to have disturbed you”.

请问 Qǐngwèn means “May I” and is a polite form to use when asking a question. In the two sentences below, with or without the word Zhōng mean the same.

Excuse me, what is the time now?
Miss, what is the time now?

不好意思,请问现在几点了?
小姐,请问现在几点了?

Bù hǎo yì si, qǐng wèn xiàn zài jǐ diǎn le?
Xiǎo jiě, qǐng wèn xiàn zài jǐ diǎn zhōng le?

 

» Casual Way to Ask Friends

When you are in a casual environment with your friend, you do not have to say out the full sentences above as they are more formal. Shorten them and ask “(现在)几点了?(Xiànzài) jǐ diǎnle? or “几点钟了?Jǐ diǎn zhōngle?


Telling Time in Chinese

Telling Time in Day or Night

Note that when telling time in Chinese, you do not have to mention the period if the time is understood in a logical sense. You emphasise it when you want to highlight whether it is daytime or night-time in writing or specific circumstances.

For example, you work at 9 pm. Then, you say specifically the time “I work at 9 pm. 晚上9点工作。Wǒ wǎnshàng 9 diǎn gōngzuò”. Otherwise, people would assume it to be 9 am if you had mentioned “I work at nine我9点工作。Wǒ 9 diǎn gōngzuò”.

The time is 02:15 now.
It is quarter past two now.

It is now 2:30 am / 2:30 pm.

现在是2点15分。
现在是2点一刻。
现在是2点半。

Xiàn zài shì 2 diǎn 15 fēn.
Xiàn zài shì 2 diǎn yī kè.
Xiàn zài shì 2 diǎn bàn.



 

Saying Digit “2” in Hour, Minutes and Seconds in Chinese

  1.  You read the digit 2 as 两 Liǎng and not  Èr when you say the Hour in Chinese.
  2. On the contrary, if you want to tell the Minutes and Seconds in Mandarin, you say it as Èr and not  Liǎng. Say the “Two” according to how you would read the Chinese Numeral 2.

Quarter Placement of Minutes in Chinese

  1. For 15 minutes in the Minute placement – 14:15, you say it as 两点十五分 Liǎng diǎn shíwǔ fēn or 两点一刻 Yīkè which means one quarter.
  2. For 30 minutes placement – 14:30, you say 两点 Liǎng diǎn bàn.
  3. For 45 minutes – 14:45, you express it as 两点四十五分 Liǎng diǎn sìshíwǔ fēn.

In conclusion, 一刻 Yīkè only applies to the first quarter of any other hour in Chinese.

Vocabulary Relating to Time in Chinese

Let us learn some basic useful vocabulary relating to Time in Chinese which you can describe in daily life. They are also used in the Mandarin sentences below to reinforce your understanding.

  • Time-Related Words

Time时间Shíjiān
Clock, Alarm Clock时钟,闹钟Shízhōng, Nàozhōng
Watch手表Shǒubiǎo
Hour点,时,小时,钟头Diǎn, Shí, Xiǎoshí, Zhōngtóu
Minutes分,分钟Fēn, Fēnzhōng
Seconds秒,秒钟Miǎo, Miǎo zhōng
15 Minutes / Quarter一刻,一刻钟Yīkè, Yīkè zhōng
From (Time) to (Time)从。。。到。。。Cóng… Dào…
WaitDěng
Before之前Zhīqián
After之后Zhīhòu
In-between, Within之间,之内Zhī jiān, Zhī nèi
Approximately大约,大概,
左右 
(literally “left-right“)
Dàyuē, Dàgài, Zuǒyòu
Almost差不多,快要,快到Chàbùduō, Kuàiyào, Kuài dào
At least起码,最少Qǐma, Zuìshǎo

 

  • Different Times of Day

Morning上午,早上,早晨Shàngwǔ, Zǎoshang, Zǎochén
Noon中午Zhōngwǔ
Afternoon下午,午后Xiàwǔ, Wǔhòu
Dusk傍晚,黄昏Bàngwǎn, Huánghūn
Evening晚上,晚间,夜晚Wǎnshàng, Wǎnjiān, Yèwǎn
Midnight午夜Wǔyè
Wee Hours深夜,凌晨Shēnyè, Língchén



How to Say “Hour” in Chinese?

Using Right Word for Hours in Chinese

If you notice in the table above, the Hours in Chinese have four different names – 小时钟头.

1. 小时 Xiǎoshí and 钟头 Zhōngtóu are nouns and have the same meaning.

    We will have a meeting 1 hour later.
    我们一个(小时 / 钟头)后开会
    Wǒmen yīgè (xiǎoshí / zhōngtóu) hòu kāihuì.

2. When saying the Hour in Chinese, always use the word  Diǎn above all else.

    The time is now 5.25 pm.
    现在是5点25分
    Xiànzài shì 5 diǎn 25 fēn.

3. We only use the single word  Shí for formal writing and never in a conversation. 11 am to 1 pm 11时 – 13时.

Chinese Time Format

You can write the time in 24-hours time format such as 19:35 on paper, but we never express the Hour in Chinese as 19(十九点)in talking. Instead, we convert the 24-hour to 12-hour time format in Chinese. Hence, we will say 7点 45分 or 晚上 7点 45分

A day has 24 hours.

一天有二十四个小时。
Yī tiān yǒu èr shí sì gè xiǎo shí.


My working hours every day is from 9 am to 5 pm.

我上班时间是每天九点到五点。
Wǒ shàng bān shí jiān shì měi tiān jiǔ diǎn dào wǔ diǎn.


My bedtime is approximately around 12 midnight. I am a night owl!

我睡觉的时间大约是凌晨十二点左右。我是个夜猫子!
Wǒ shuì jiào de shí jiān dà yuē shì líng chén shí’èr diǎn zuǒ yòu. Wǒ shì gè yè māo zi!


I still have to wait in the hospital for how many hours?

我在医院还要等几个钟头呀?
Wǒ zài yī yuàn hái yào děng jǐ gè zhōng tóu ya?


You want me to wait half an hour for you is not a problem. But, I have to rush home before 12 pm to cook.

你要我等你半个钟头不是问题。不过,我必须在十二点之前赶回家做饭。
Nǐ yào wǒ děng nǐ bàn gè zhōng tóu bù shì wèn tí. Bù guò, wǒ bì xū zài shí’èr diǎn zhī qián gǎn huí jiā zuò fàn.


My exam time is 3 hours. Hope to complete it within 2.5 hours.

我的考试时间是三个小时。希望能在两个半小时内完成。
Wǒ de kǎo shì shí jiān shì sān gè xiǎo shí. Xī wàng néng zài liǎng gè bàn xiǎo shí nèi wán chéng.



 

How to Say “Minutes” in Chinese?

Expressing Minutes When Telling Time in Chinese

Minutes in Chinese is 分 fēn and more straightforward to express compare to ‘hour’ which more Chinese terms to learn. To reiterate, 一刻 Yīkè or 十五分 Shíwǔ fēn is how you would say the minutes of the time xx:15. 12.10 pm would be 十二点十分.

Expressing Minutes as a Duration in Chinese

To use Minutes in Chinese as a noun for expressing a duration, you have to end it with a Chinese word 钟 Zhōng – 十五分 or x分. The exception is 30 minutes or half an hour which we say either 半个小时 Bàn gè xiǎoshí, 半个钟头 Bàn gè zhōngtóu or 三十分 Sānshí fēnzhōng.

Another way to say the duration is to add 时间 Shíjiān after 分钟. “Give me 20 minutes’ time. 给我二十分钟(的)时间。 Gěi wǒ èrshí fēnzhōng (de) shíjiān”.

If you think it is confusing, here is a summary to say Minutes in Chinese.

  • When you tell the time, always say it with without the .
  • To mention a duration, use 分钟.

The time is now 22:55, almost 23:00.

现在的时间是十点五十五分,快要十一点了。
Xiàn zài de shí jiān shì shí diǎn wǔ shí wǔ fēn, kuài yào shí yī diǎn le.


An hour has 60 minutes.

一个小时有六十分
Yī gè xiǎo shí yǒu liù shí fēn zhōng.


I used almost 2 hours 15 minutes time to complete my exam paper.

我用了差不多两小时十五分的时间完成我的考卷。
Wǒ yòng le chà bù duō liǎng xiǎo shí shí wǔ fēn zhōng de shí jiān wán chéng wǒ de kǎo juàn.


Please give me 5 minutes to explain clearly to you.

请给我五分钟时间向你解释清楚。
Qǐng gěi wǒ wǔ fēn zhōng shí jiān xiàng nǐ jiě shì qīng chǔ.


Hurry up! We are only left with 30 minutes’ time.

快点!我们只剩下三十分钟的时间。
Kuài diǎn! Wǒ men zhǐ shèng xià sān shí fēn zhōng de shí jiān.


Sorry, I will be slightly late. Reaching around 17:25. Please give me another half an hour.

不好意思,我会迟一点到。大概五点二十五分左右。再给我多半个钟头。
Bù hǎo yì si, wǒ huì chí yī diǎn dào. Dà gài wǔ diǎn èr shí wǔ fēn zuǒ yòu. Zài gěi wǒ duō bàn gè zhōng tóu.



How to Say “Seconds” in Chinese?

For indicating seconds of the time in Chinese, we use 秒 Miǎo. For the noun, we use 秒钟 Miǎo zhōng. However, there are more exceptions for ‘seconds’ than ‘minutes’ because we do not always use 秒钟 as a noun. The word 钟 Zhōng is quite insignificant here.

Similar to the formula of ‘Minutes in Chinese’ above, when we say 20 seconds’ time 二十秒(的)时间 Èrshí miǎo (de) shíjiān, it is also another way to express it as a noun or duration.

If you are not sure whether to use or 秒钟, it is not a big deal. In many Chinese sentence construction, both can be correct. When in doubt, use 秒钟 Miǎo zhōng as a noun.

When there is a decimal point after the Seconds in Chinese, read the number as an individual numeral and not as a double-digit number.

A minute has 60 seconds. Then, one hour has how many minutes?

一分钟有六十秒。哪一个钟头有几秒钟呢?
Yī fēn zhōng yǒu liù shí miǎo. Na yī gè zhōng tóu yǒu jǐ miǎo zhōng ne?


In a Q&A competition, I used 3 seconds to answer one question.

我在作答比赛中,一道题用了三秒钟来作答。
Wǒ zài zuò dá bǐ sài zhōng, yī dào tí yòng le sān miǎo zhōng lái zuò dá.


He was only late for a few seconds and was scolded by the boss.

他只是迟到了几秒钟,就被老板骂了。
Tā zhǐ shì chí dào le jǐ miǎo zhōng, jiù bèi lǎo bǎn mà le.


I give you 30 seconds to come home! (Literally: I give you 30 seconds to roll back home! – *expressing anger*)

我给你三十秒的时间滚回家!
Wǒ gěi nǐ sān shí miǎo de shí jiān gǔn huí jiā!


Usain Bolt used a short duration of 9.69s to finish the 100m race, setting a new world record.

尔特用短短九点六九秒跑完了100 米,创下了新的世界纪录。
Ěr Tè yòng duǎn duǎn jiǔ diǎn liù jiǔ miǎo pǎo wán liǎo 100 mǐ, chuàng xià le xīn de shì jiè jì lù.


She used 2h 30m 52s to win the Women’s Championship in a 40 km Marathon Race.

她在40公里马拉松比赛中用了两小时三十分五十二秒夺得女子冠军。
Tā zài 40 gōng lǐ mǎ lā sōng bǐ sài zhōng yòng le liǎng xiǎo shí sān shí fēn wǔ shí’èr miǎo duó dé nǚ zǐ guàn jūn.


Enquiring on Time in Chinese: How Long and How  Many Hours / Minutes / Seconds?

We can also ask questions on the time length or amount of time with 多久多长时间. For enquiring hours, minutes and seconds, we use in front of the term that you want to know.

How long, What is the length of time?多久,多长时间Duōjiǔ, Duō cháng shíjiān
Hours几个小时,几个钟头Jǐ gè xiǎoshí, Jǐ gè zhōngtóu
Minutes几分钟Jǐ fēnzhōng
Seconds几秒,几秒钟Jǐ miǎo, Jǐ miǎo zhōng

How long do you want me to wait? A few hours?

你要我等多久?几个小时?
Nǐ yào wǒ děng duō jiǔ? Jǐ gè xiǎo shí?


How many minutes do we rest here?

我们要在这里休息几分钟呢?
Wǒ men yào zài zhè lǐ xiū xí jǐ fēn zhōng ne?


How many seconds does a leopard need to run 100 metres?

豹子跑100米需要几秒钟?
Bào zi pǎo 100 mǐ xū yào jǐ miǎo zhōng?



More Examples of Time in Chinese

Here are more examples of the time and the period used with what we have learned.

Around dusk between 18:30 to 19:00, when the sun sets, I like to have a slow jog.

我喜欢在旁晚6点半到7点之间,太阳下山的时候慢跑。

Wǒ xǐ huān zài páng wǎn 6 diǎn bàn dào 7 diǎn zhī jiān, tài yáng xià shān de shí hòu màn pǎo.


My lunch hour is not fixed. I try to eat in between noon from 11:00 to 13:00.

我午餐时间不固定。我尽量在中午11点到1点之内用餐。

Wǒ wǔ cān shí jiān bù gù dìng. Wǒ jǐn liàng zài zhōng wǔ 11 diǎn dào 1 diǎn zhī nèi yòngcān.


Usually, after lunchtime approximately after 14:00, the shop has fewer customers.

平时过了用餐时间,大概下午2点之后,店里的顾客会比较少。

Píng shí guò le yòng cān shí jiān, dà gài xià wǔ 2 diǎn zhī hòu, diàn lǐ de gù kè huì bǐ jiào shǎo.


Yesterday night, the next-door neighbour returned home around 2 or 3 plus am after drinking.

隔壁邻居昨晚喝到凌晨两三点多才回家。

Gé bì lín jū zuó wǎn hē dào líng chén liǎng sān diǎn duō cái huí jiā.


Tonight after 12 midnight is the Chinese Lunar New Year. Looking forward to it!

今晚过了午夜12点就是华人农历新年了。好期待!

Jīn wǎn guò le wǔ yè 12 diǎn jiù shì huá rén nóng lì xīn nián le. Hǎo qí dài!


Do you prefer to attend the morning 09:30 or evening 19:30 English class?

你比较喜欢上早上9点半还是晚上7点半的英语课呢?

Nǐ bǐ jiào xǐ huān shàng zǎo shang 9 diǎn bàn hái shì wǎn shàng 7 diǎn bàn de yīng yǔ kè ne? 


I reckon that this travel journey would require at least 6 to 7 hours of the road trip. The estimated time arrival to the destination would be approximately 22:30.

我猜想这次的旅程起码需要6到7个小时的路程。估计晚上10点半左右才会抵达目的地。

Wǒ cāi xiǎng zhè cì de lǚ chéng qǐ mǎ xū yào 6 dào 7 gè xiǎo shí de lù chéng. Gū jì wǎn shàng 10 diǎn bàn zuǒ yòu cái huì dǐ dá mù dì de.


Hope that you have benefitted from this long post on telling Time in Chinese. Check out the related articles below on saying Date in Chinese.

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