Learn English: How to tell the time
How do you tell the time when people say ‘half past’ or ‘quarter to’? What’s the meaning of ‘Friday week’? What is a ‘fortnight’? Let’s learn the meaning of these words and find out how to talk about the time in English!
If the minute hand of the clock (which is the longer hand) is pointing to 12 and the hour hand is pointing to 5, you could say that the time is ‘5 o’clock’.
Another way you could talk about the time would be to shorten it and just say ‘5’. For example, you could say:
When writing this, you could write 5am, 5pm or 5 o’clock .
We use ‘am’ when we talk about time before 12 noon. 12 noon is also known as midday. We use ‘pm’ when we talk about time after 12 noon. So 5am is in the morning and 5pm is in the evening.
If the minute hand of the clock is pointing to 6 and the hour hand is pointing to 12, you could say:
When writing this time, you could write 12:30am or 12:30pm.
If the minute hand is pointing to three and the hour hand is pointing to 1, you could say that the time is ‘a quarter past 1’. You could write the time as 1:15am or 1:15pm.
When the minute hand (which is the longer hand of a clock) is between 12 and 6, we say that we’re a number of minutes ‘past’ the hour. For example, we say:
If the minute hand is pointing to nine and the hour hand is pointing to 10, you could say that the time is ‘a quarter to 11’. You could write the time as 10:45am or 10:45pm.
When the minute hand is between 6 and 12, we say that we’re a number of minutes ‘to’ the hour. For example, we say:
If you want to talk about a day of the week, there are also a number of phrases that you can use.
If today’s date is Wednesday 1 March, and someone asks you to meet them ‘Friday week’, they are referring to Friday 10 March. ‘Friday week’ refers to the Friday of the following week. ‘Saturday week’ refers to the Saturday of the following week.
If you want to talk about the Friday in the same week, you could say ‘this Friday’ or ‘this coming Friday’.
A fortnight refers to two weeks. If someone says ‘I’ll meet you in a fortnight’ they mean that they’ll meet you two weeks later. If someone says that they get paid fortnightly, they mean that that they are paid once every two weeks.