• French course for beginners
  • 1 French greetings (Hello in French) [0/3]
  • 2 How to introduce yourself in French [0/3]
  • 3 Cardinal numbers in French [0/3]
  • 4 Ordinal numbers in French [0/3]
  • 5 Telling the time in French [0/3]
  • 6 Months and days of the week in French [0/3]
  • 7 Colors in French [0/3]
  • 8 Describe a person in French [0/3]
  • 9 Talking about the weather in French [0/3]
  • 10 Asking for directions in French [0/3]
  • 11 French travel phrases and vocabulary [0/3]
  • 12 Food and drinks in French [0/3]
  • 13 Family members in French [0/3]
  • 14 Names of Countries in French [0/3]
  • 15 The grocery store in French (fruits, vegetables....)
  • 16 Animal names in French (horse, dog, cat...)
  • 17 Clothing in French (shoes, clothes...)
  • 18 Birthday wishes in French and party words
  • 19 I love you in French (emotions, feelings)
  • Telling the time in French

    Telling the time is important for appointments, travelling, getting to work and many more things. If you already know the numbers then you already know half of the vocabulary used in this topic.

    Talking about the time in French

    To begin with, you need to know that the word "time" has three different meanings in French; l'heure, le temps, le nombre de fois. Only l'heure is used in this case. The French "time" is equivalent to "o'clock" in English. In the table bellow you will find the essential vocabulary:



    second la seconde
    minut la minute
    hour l'heure
    quarter of an hour le quart d'heure
    half an hour la demi-heure
    noon le midi
    midnight minuit
    night la nuit
    afternoon l’après-midi
    evening la soirée
    morning le matin


    Unlike in English "heure" is always required. For example in English you can say "It's almost five" or "She is going there at seven thirty." In French you must say "Il est presque cinq heures." and "Elle y arrivera à sept heures trente." Keep in mind that "heure" is noun and it's singular with "une" and plural with all other numbers.

    How to ask for the time ?

    You can ask for the time in French "demander l'heure" in a few ways:

    Quelle + heure + verbe être + il?

    • Quelle heure est-il ? Il est 17 heures 30. = What time is it ? It is 5.30

    Others possible questions 

    • Il + verbe être + quelle + heure?
    • Quand + nom + verb + pronom il / elle?
    • pronom ce + être + quelle + heure (familier)?
    • preposition A + quelle + heure?


    A quelle heure commence la pièce de théâtre? = At what time does the play begin?  

    Quand le magasin ouvre-t-il? = When does the store open? 

    Il est 7 heures vingt. =  It's 7:20           

    enlightened Attention!

    The only correct phrase for telling the time is "Il est" which is also impersonal, what means that "elle est 4 heures et demie" is incorrect.

    Learn the clock in French

    In French time is based on the 24-hour clock, and the abbreviations p.m. or a.m are not used. Instead you can use the phrase "du matin" to mean a.m., l'après-midi from noon until 6 p.m., followed by "du soir" until midnight. 


    To tell a time on the hour in French, use "il ehour in frenchst + [number] + heure(s)". 

    3:00 il est trois heures
    9:00 il est neuf heures
    6:00 il est six heures

    Half an hour

    For 30 minutes past the hour, it's used "et demie" (and a half) or "trente minutes" (and thirty minutes). hour in french

    1:30 il est une heure et demie
    8:30 il est huit heures et demie
    9:30 il est neuf heures et trente minutes

    The quarter hour

    For 15 minutes past the hour in French is said "et quart" (and a quarter). If the clock shows the 45th minute you can use the word past = moins + le quart, instead of 45 minutes.hour in french

    4:45 il est cinq heures moins le quart
    4:15 il est quatre heures et quinze minutes
    1:45 il est deux heures moins le quart

    il est une heure et quart

    il est une heure et quinze minutes


    To say 1 to 30 minutes past the hour, simply you say the number of minutes after the hour. The only difference can be for 31 to 59 minutes past the hour, where you can say the next hour "moins" (minus) the number of minutes left. See the examples below! hour in french

    4:09 il est quatre heures et neuf minutes
    14:20 il est quatorze heures et vingt minutes

    il est vingt heures moins vingts

    il est dix-neuf heures et quarante minutes

    enlightenedNow to practice you time-telling skills, we suggest you to try out our exercises!


    Exercise talking about the time

    How to read the clock?

    Reading the clock in French