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How To Tell The Time In French

French telling time

Telling (or asking) the time in French is incredibly easy and straightforward.

I'll explain why below.

(Also, it's helpful listen to these time in French audio examples too).

If you're planning a trip to France (or just want to be able to converse online with French speakers), time is one of the most important early topics to cover.

This lesson will cover all the essentials including asking for time, and the correct way to say days, hours, minutes and seconds.

Let’s review some vital terms in French first:

French Terms For Time
JourDay
MatinMorning
Après-midiAfternoon
SoirEvening
NuitNight
De bonne heure / TôtEarly
TardLate

Now let’s take a look at referring to a specific time in French, which is easy if you have already learned the French numbers.

To tell the time, the general formula is:

The hour + 'heure(s)' + the minute

Example:

8:13 = huit heures treize (eight thirteen)

4:39 = quatre heures trente-neuf (four thirty-nine)

As you can see, in French, you not only state the hour but also say the actual word hour in French, which is heure and heures for singular and plural numbers.

Example:

1 P.M. = treize heures (13 hours)

2 P.M. = quatorze heures (14 hours)

Time of the Day
du matinin the morning
de l’après-midiin the afternoon
du soirin the evening / at night

Example:

cinq heures du matin = (five of the morning)

cinq heures de l’après-midi = (five in the afternoon)

neuf heures du soir = (nine at night)

Fractions of the Hour
et quarta quarter
et demiea half

Example:

8:15 = huit heures quinze (eight fifteen) or huit heures et quart (eight and a quarter)

10:30 = dix heures trente (ten thirty) or dix heures et demie (a half past ten)

Asking and Answering About the Time
Quelle heure est-il?What time is it?
Il est . . .It is . . .
More examples
Il est minuitIt’s midnight
Il est une heure (du matin)It’s one o’clock
Il est deux heures (du matin)It’s two o’clock
Il est trois heures (du matin)It’s three o’clock
Il est cinq heures quinzeIl est cinq heures et quartIt’s five fifteen
Il est cinq heures trenteIl est cinq heures et demieIt’s five thirty
Il est cinq heures quarante-cinqIl est six heures moins le quartIt’s five forty-fiveIt’s a quarter to six

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Author: Amélie
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