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How to Tell Time in English

There are a number of ways to tell time in English. For example, 8:15 can be expressed as:

  • eight fifteen
  • a quarter past eight
  • fifteen past eight

Learn how to tell time in English by first reading a paragraph with a number of examples. Next, study the rules. Finally, take the follow-up quiz to test your knowledge.

My Day

I usually get up at a quarter past seven - that's seven fifteen in the morning. I have breakfast at eight o'clock and then take the bus to work at half past eight. I usually arrive at work at a quarter to nine. Sometimes, the bus is late and I arrive at about nine. My morning is usually pretty busy and I like taking a coffee break at twenty to eleven if possible. I then work to lunchtime at noon. In the afternoon, I usually have another break at three fifteen. I usually finish work at a quarter to five and arrive home around six in the evening. At night, I usually go to bed at eleven o'clock.

Look at the rules for telling time in English.

Use "past" to say times after the hour until half past, or 30 minutes past the hour. Use "to" to say times before the hour from 31 minutes until the full hour.
Use "o'clock" only at the full hour. Example: It's eight o'clock To avoid using "past" and "to", say the time by hour and then minutes. Example: It's seven twenty-five.
When speaking about the different times of the day use in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening Be careful! Use at night NOT in the night

Practice Telling the Time

Practice telling the times in the pictures below, click on the arrow to see the possible answers:


The next thing you can do is listening to this time telling listening exercise. Notice how many different forms they use to ask for the time.

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