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Asking and telling the time in Italian

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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.

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How to ask the time...

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

ItalianEnglish
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

TimeItalianEnglish
8:00Sono le otto It's eight o'clock
8:05Sono le otto e cinqueIt eight five
8:10Sono le otto e dieciIt's eight ten
8:15Sono le otto e quindici It's eight fifteen
8:20Sono le otto e ventiIt's eight twenty
8:25Sono le otto e venticinqueIt's eight twenty-five
8:30Sono le otto e trentaIt's eight thirty
8:35Sono le otto e trentacinqueIt's eight thirty-five
8:40Sono le otto e quarantaIt's eight forty
8:45Sono le otto e quarantacinqueIt's eight forty-five
8:50Sono le otto e cinquantaIt's eight fifty
8:55Sono le otto e cinquantacinqueIt's eight fifty-five


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

TimeItalianEnglish
8:15Sono le otto e un quartoIt's a quarter past eight
8:30Sono le otto e mezzaIt's half past eight
8:40Sono le nove meno ventiIt's twenty to nine
8:45Sono le nove meno un quarto
Sono le nove e tre quarti
It's a quarter to night
8:50Sono le nove meno dieciIt's ten to nine
8:55Sono le nove meno cinqueIt'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).

TimeItalianEnglish
01:00 E' l'unaIt's 1
12:00 
(12 am)
E' mezzogiornoIt's Midday
00:00 / 24:00
(12 pm)
E' mezzanotteIt'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).

TimeItalian English
18:45
(6:45 pm)
Sono le diciotto e quarantacinqueIt's six forty-five pm
20:10
(8:10 pm)
Sono le venti e dieciIt's eight ten pm


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

Time spanNameEnglishExpressionsEnglish
00:00 - 6:00
(12 pm-6 am)
La notteThe nightDi notte / La notte At night
6:00 - 12:00
(6 am-12 am)
Il mattinoThe morningDi mattina / La mattina / Del mattinoIn the morning
12:00 - 18:00
(12 am-6 pm)
Il pomeriggioThe afternoonDi pomeriggio / Nel pomeriggio / Del pomeriggioIn the afternoon
18:00 - 24:00
(6 pm-12 pm)
La seraThe eveningDi 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 dayItalianEnglishItalianEnglish
NightAll'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
MorningAlle 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

 
AfternoonAlle 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 pomeriggioThe post office is open in the afternoon
EveningAlle 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 seraWe 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.

 ItalianEnglish
MarioChe ore sono Chiara?What time is it, Chiara?
ChiaraSono le cinque e un quarto.It's a quarter past five.
MarioE' 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.
ChiaraSei sicuro? Mi avevi detto che era alle otto e venti.Are you sure? You told me it was at eight twenty, once.
MarioHai ragione. Grazie!You are right. Thank you!
ChiaraPrego!You're welcome!

 


Exercises

  1. Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Drag text
  2. Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Flashcards
  3. Exercise on telling the time in Italian - Single choice set
  4. Exercise on asking and telling the time in Italian- Fill in the blanks
  5. Dialogues about asking and telling the time - Fill in the blanks

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


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