Tell Time in GermanJan 21, 2023
Learning to tell time is an important skill in any language, and German is no exception. In this post, we will go over the basics of reading the time in German, including how to say the numbers and how to use the terms for "o'clock," "half past," and "quarter past/to." We will also cover the 24 hour time format, which is commonly used in Germany.
What time is it?
Wie spät ist es?
Wissen Sie, wie spät es ist?
Weißt du, wie spät es ist?
Können Sie mir sagen, wie spät es ist?
Kannst du mir sagen, wie spät es ist?
First, let's go over the numbers that we will need to tell time in German. Here are the numbers from 0-24:
0 - null 1 - eins 2 - zwei 3 - drei 4 - vier 5 - fünf 6 - sechs 7 - sieben 8 - acht 9 - neun 10 - zehn 11 - elf 12 - zwölf
Now that we have the numbers down, let's move on to telling time.
To say a specific time when the clock is showing a whole hour, we use the word "Uhr," which means "clock." For example:
- Es ist jetzt drei Uhr. (It is now 3 o'clock.)
- Es ist jetzt neun Uhr. (It is now 9 o'clock.)
To say a time that is half past an hour, we use the word "halb," which means "half," and the word "vor," which means "before." For example:
- Es ist jetzt halb vier. (It is now half past 3.)
- Es ist jetzt halb acht. (It is now half past 7.)
The use of "vor" might seem counterintuitive at first, but it is actually used to indicate that the time is just before the next hour. So in the above example, "halb vier" basically means "half of four", in other words - half past 3. It can be helpful to think of "halb" as meaning "half to" rather than "half past."
To say a time that is a quarter past or a quarter to an hour, we use the word "Viertel," which means "quarter," and the word "nach," which means "after," or "vor," which means "before." For example:
- Es ist jetzt Viertel nach vier. (It is now a quarter past 3.)
- Es ist jetzt Viertel vor fünf. (It is now a quarter to 5.)
24 Hour Time Format
In Germany, it is common to use the 24 hour time format, also known as "military time." In this system, the hours are numbered from 0-23, with 00:00 being midnight and 12:00 being noon. To say a time in the 24 hour format, we simply use the numbers as they are. For example:
- Es ist jetzt 0 Uhr. (It is now 0 o'clock.)
- Es ist jetzt 17 Uhr. (It is now 17 o'clock.)
Learning to tell time in German is an important skill that can help you navigate daily life in Germany. Don’t hesitate to use these phrases in your conversations and get a sense of the rhythm and intonation in the language.
Remember, it's all about the üben üben üben! :)
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