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The Time in German (hours and minutes in German)

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What time is it? At what time we are going to meet? After having studied this chapter, you will be able to answer those questions! Before explaining you how you can tell the time in German, I will show you some general expressions you should study as well!

  • the second = die Sekunde
  • the minute = die Minute
  • the hours = die Stunde

"What time is it" in German?

There are different ways to ask for the time in German, it does not matter which of the following phrases you will use!

  • Wie viel Uhr ist es?
  • Wie viel Uhr haben wir?
  • Wie spät ist es?

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Key words to learn

In the following list, you will find the key words in order to be able to tell the time.

Its is...Es ist...
to (before)vor
past (after)nach


Telling the time in German

There are different ways how to tell the time in German. 

Full hour

When it is a full hour, we are using the same construction as in English: Es ist XY Uhr (=It is XY o'clock)

  • 2AM: Es ist zwei Uhr
  • 8AM: Es ist acht Uhr

Telling the exact time

For 3:22AM, in English you would say: It’s three twenty-two. In German, the phrase differs a bit: Between the hours and the minutes, you have to put "Uhr". Following, for 3:22AM, in English you would say: Es ist drei Uhr zweiundzwanzig.

1.11AMEs ist ein Uhr elf
3.03AMEs ist drei Uhr drei
5.54AMEs ist fünf Uhr vierundfünfzig
9.28AMEs ist neun Uhr achtundzwanzig


How to say "It’s five past ten" and "It's five to ten"

"To" is translated with "vor", "past" is translated with "nach".

enlightenedUsing this construction, you say the minutes first.The construction is exactly the same as in English.

9:05AMEs ist fünf nach neun
11.20AMEs ist zwanzig nach elf
5.11AMEs ist elf nach fünf
7.40AMEs ist zwanzig vor acht
10.50AMEs ist zehn vor elf
6.55AMEs ist fünf for sieben


"Quarter" and "half"

  • "Quarter" ist translated with "Viertel", "half" with "halb"
  • The construction of phrases with "Viertel" are the same as in English
  • The construction of phrases with "halb" is a bit different. Instead of saying for example "It’s half past eight", in German you just say "Es ist halb 9" (=It is half nine). So you use the word "halb" adding straight following hour!
6.45AMEs ist Viertel vor sieben
9.15AMEs ist Viertel nach neun
8.30AMEs ist halb neun
10.15AMEs ist Viertel nach zehn
3.45AMEs ist Viertel vor vier
1.30AMEs ist halb zwei


The 24 hour system

In Germany, unlike in many other countries, we are not using AM and PM to differ between morning and evening. Instead, we are using the 24 hour system. Sometimes, more often in casual conversations, we also use the 12-hour system.

  • 0 - 11: AM
  • 12 - 24: PM
  • To get the time in pm you just have to add 12 to the numbers between 0-12 (3  + 12 = 15.00)
5PMEs ist 17 (siebzehn) Uhr
1PMEs ist 13 (dreizehn) Uhr
11PMEs ist 23 (dreiundzwanzig) Uhr
8PMEs ist 20 (zwanzig) Uhr


enlightened "Viertel" and "halb" as well as "to" and "past" are not used with the 24 hour system.

  • For 2:30PM, you say "halb drei", not "halb fünfzehn"
  • For 9:45PM, you say "Viertel vor zehn", not "Viertel vor zweiundzwanzig"


  1. Telling the time in German: Fill in the Blanks Part 1
  2. Telling the time in German: Fill in the Blanks Part 2
  3. Telling the time in German: Multiple Choice Excercise

Telling the time in German: Fill in the Blanks Part 1

Telling the time in German: Fill in the Blanks Part 2

Telling the time in German: Multiple Choice Excercise

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