How to Tell the Time

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 8.44.00

Use minutes with to and past when the number of minutes is not 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 (it’s especially true for British English). Or say directly what you see on your watch/clock. For example:

6:03 – three minutes past six / six oh three / three past six

16:07 – seven minutes past four / four oh seven / seven past four

17:56 – four minutes to six / five fifty six


What time is it in London/New York/Tokyo/Moscow?…


  • 10 a.m. = 10 o’clock in the morning
  • 12:00 p.m. – midday
  • 4 p.m. = 4 o’clock in the afternoon
  • 9 p.m. = 9 o’clock in the evening
  • 6:57 = nearly/almost 7
  • 7:02 – just after 7
  • 11:30 p.m. = eleven thirty at night
  • 12 a.m. = midnight

There is no exact definition of the time when afternoon, evening, night and morning start and end. However, we usually presume that afternoon starts at midday (12 noon/12 p.m.) and ends at roughly 6 p.m. Then evening starts and lasts until bedtime (or around 9 p.m., some people might argue). We can define night as the time between bedtime and morning (or between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., some might say). Interestingly, morning is the period of time between midnight and noon (1 a.m. would be 1 o’clock in the morning). It is so difficult to define morning, afternoon, evening and night because these periods of time can vary according to people’s lifestyle and the hours of daylight in each season.


Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 9.33.16I starts work at 8 o’clock.

The shops close at 5:30.

See you on Monday!

I don’t work on Saturdays.

The festival is on November 22.

It usually happens in October.

I finished school in 2007.

The garden is lovely in spring.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 9.41.15What do you like to do at the weekend (on the weekend is American English)?

Where will you be at Christmas (but on Christmas Day)?

There will be a test at the end of the month.

Note that we’d say “in the morning/afternoon/evening” BUT “on Monday morning/afternoon/evening/night”!

We don’t use at/in/on before:

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 9.51.44.pngLet’s go out this evening (= tonight).

The garden was lovely last summer.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 9.54.53.png


Hurry up! The train leaves in 5 minutes! (= the train leaves 5 minutes from now)

See you in a few days. (= a few days from now)


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