• Italian course for beginners (A1)
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  • 1 Greetings in Italian (hello, goodbye, ...) [0/5]
  • 2 How to introduce yourself in Italian (my name is...) [0/6]
  • 3 Asking and telling the time in Italian [0/5]
  • 4 Days of the week, months and holidays in Italian [0/6]
  • 5 How to talk about your family in Italian [0/6]
  • 6 House, rooms, furniture in Italian [0/14]
  • 7 The weather in Italian [0/5]
  • 8 Body parts in Italian [0/12]
  • 9 Clothes in Italian (shoes, accessories, fashion) [0/13]
  • 10 The colours in Italian [0/5]
  • 11 Countries and nationalities in Italian [0/6]
  • 12 Describing someone in Italian (adjectives, body) [0/9]
  • 13 Feelings and emotions in Italian (I love you) [0/7]
  • 14 Food names in Italian [0/9]
  • 15 How to order food at the restaurant in Italian [0/6]
  • 16 Animals and pets in Italian [0/14]
  • 17 Nature in Italian [0/5]
  • 18 School in Italian [0/6]
  • 19 Jobs and professions in Italian [0/6]
  • 20 The city and asking for directions in Italian [0/7]
  • 21 Hobbies and sports in Italian [0/5]
  • 22 Health in Italian [0/5]
  • 23 Wishes and proverbs in Italian [0/4]
  • Asking and telling the time in Italian

    How to ask and tell the time in Italian

    This section will give you an overview of Italian time habits and teach you how to ask and tell the hour.

    How to ask the time...

    You can use one of the following expressions to ask the time.

    Italian English
    Che ore sono? What time is it? (Informal)
    Scusami, che ore sono? Excuse me, what time is it? (Informal)
    Mi sai dire che ora è? Can you tell me what time is it? (Informal)
    Mi scusi, che ora è? Excuse me, what time is it? (Formal)
    Può dirmi l'ora, per favore? Could you please tell me the time? (Formal)
    Mi sa dire l'orario, per favore? Do you know what time is it, please? (Formal)

     

    ...and how to tell it

    When telling the time, use the following structure.

    enlightened Sono le (It's) + Hours + E + Minutes

    Time Italian English
    8:00 Sono le otto  It's eight o'clock
    8:05 Sono le otto e cinque It eight five
    8:10 Sono le otto e dieci It's eight ten
    8:15 Sono le otto e quindici  It's eight fifteen
    8:20 Sono le otto e venti It's eight twenty
    8:25 Sono le otto e venticinque It's eight twenty-five
    8:30 Sono le otto e trenta It's eight thirty
    8:35 Sono le otto e trentacinque It's eight thirty-five
    8:40 Sono le otto e quaranta It's eight forty
    8:45 Sono le otto e quarantacinque It's eight forty-five
    8:50 Sono le otto e cinquanta It's eight fifty
    8:55 Sono le otto e cinquantacinque It's eight fifty-five


    In informal contexts it is possible to use the following expressions.

    Time Italian English
    8:15 Sono le otto e un quarto It's a quarter past eight
    8:30 Sono le otto e mezza It's half past eight
    8:40 Sono le nove meno venti It's twenty to nine
    8:45 Sono le nove meno un quarto
    Sono le nove e tre quarti
    It's a quarter to night
    8:50 Sono le nove meno dieci It's ten to nine
    8:55 Sono le nove meno cinque It's five to nine


    Exceptions

    As you can from the examples, when telling an hour we use the plural expression Sono le.
    However the following hours use another expression, that is E' (article).

    Time Italian English
    01:00  E' l'una It's 1
    12:00 
    (12 am)
    E' mezzogiorno It's Midday
    00:00 / 24:00
    (12 pm)
    E' mezzanotte It's Midnight

     

    The parts of the day in Italian

    In Italian there is no distinction between AM and PM. 
    If you use a number from 1 to 12, make sure the listener can distinguish between an hour in the night or in the morning.
    If the listener cannot distinguish between an hour in the night or in the morning, use numbers from 0 to 23 (it's more formal).

    Time Italian  English
    18:45
    (6:45 pm)
    Sono le diciotto e quarantacinque It's six forty-five pm
    20:10
    (8:10 pm)
    Sono le venti e dieci It's eight ten pm


    Here is a list with the different moments of the day in Italian and some related expressions.

    Time span Name English Expressions English
    00:00 - 6:00
    (12 pm-6 am)
    La notte The night Di notte / La notte  At night
    6:00 - 12:00
    (6 am-12 am)
    Il mattino The morning Di mattina / La mattina / Del mattino In the morning
    12:00 - 18:00
    (12 am-6 pm)
    Il pomeriggio The afternoon Di pomeriggio / Nel pomeriggio / Del pomeriggio In the afternoon
    18:00 - 24:00
    (6 pm-12 pm)
    La sera The evening Di sera / La sera  In the evening


    How to use time expressions

    Look at the following constructions to understand how time expressions are used.

    Part of the day Italian English Italian English
    Night All'una di notte 
    Alle due di notte
    Alle tre di notte (...) 
    At 1 am 
    At 2 am 
    At 3 am (...)
    Devono lavorare anche di / la notte  They have to work at night too
    Morning Alle sette del mattino 
    Alle otto del mattino
    Alle nove del mattino (...)
    At 7 am
    At 8 am
    At 9 am (...)
    Preferisco alzarmi presto di / la mattina

    I prefer to get up early in the morning

     
    Afternoon Alle tre del pomeriggio 
    Alle quattro del pomeriggio
    Alle cinque del pomeriggio (...)
    At 3 pm
    At 4 pm
    At 5 pm (...)
    L'ufficio postale è aperto di / nel pomeriggio The post office is open in the afternoon
    Evening Alle otto di sera
    Alle nove di sera 
    Alle dieci di sera (...)
    At 8 pm
    At 9 pm
    At 10 pm (...)
    Ci piace molto uscire di / la sera We really like to go out in the evening

     

    It's also possible to use:
    Alle quattro del mattino / Alle cinque del mattino (...)
    At 4 am / At 5 am (...)

    There is sometimes no specific distinction between Pomeriggio (Afternoon) and Sera (Evening); the definition may be flexible.
    Alle cinque del pomeriggio, di sera / Alle sei di pomeriggio, di sera (...) 
    At 5 pm / At 6 pm (...)

     

    Daily dialogues

    Take a look at the following dialogue about asking at telling the time.

      Italian English
    Mario Che ore sono Chiara? What time is it, Chiara?
    Chiara Sono le cinque e un quarto. It's a quarter past five.
    Mario E' molto tardi! Ho un appuntamento con Marco alle sette e mezza in un'altra città. It's very late! I have an appointment with Marco at seven thirthy in another city.
    Chiara Sei sicuro? Mi avevi detto che era alle otto e venti. Are you sure? You told me it was at eight twenty, once.
    Mario Hai ragione. Grazie! You are right. Thank you!
    Chiara Prego! You're welcome!

     

    Exercises

    Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Drag text

    Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Flashcards

    Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Single choice set

    Exercise on asking and telling the time in Italian- Fill in the blanks

    Dialogues about asking and telling the time - Fill in the blanks