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.
How to ask the time...
You can use one of the following expressions to ask the time.
|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.
Sono le (It's) + Hours + E + Minutes
|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.
|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|
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|
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).
|01:00||E' l'una||It's 1|
|E' mezzogiorno||It's Midday|
|00:00 / 24:00
|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).
|Sono le diciotto e quarantacinque||It's six forty-five 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.
|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|
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|
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
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|
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 (...)
Take a look at the following dialogue about asking at telling the time.
|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!|
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