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How to Tell Time in Chinese

Posted by Julia Song on June 2, 2016

How to tell time in Chinese


Before learning to tell time in Mandarin Chinese, you need a solid grasp of mandarin numbers. All number vocabulary is based on the numbers from zero to ten. Multiples of 10 are expressed as 2-10 (20), 3-10 (30) etc. Numbers above 10 are expressed as 10-1 (11), 20-3 (23) etc.

Be careful --- the number 2 has two pronunciations: èr when counting, and liǎng when used with a measure word (as in telling the time). Ok, let's get started!

First, let's learn some basic words for time units

Here are some examples

diǎn

o’clock

bàn

half

quarter (of an hour)

fēn

minute

miǎo

second


8:00 八点 bā diǎn

9:05 九点零五分 jiǔ diǎn línɡ wǔ fēn

10:10 十点十分 shí diǎn shí fēn

11:15 十一点十五分 shí yì diǎn shí wǔ fēn

1:30 一点半 yì diǎn bàn

4:45 五点差一刻 wǔ diǎn chà yí kè

6:58 七点差两分 qī diǎn chà liǎnɡ fēn

Also, don't forget to add A.M or P.M to make it precise:


早上

zǎo shang

5:00-8:00

上午

shàng wǔ

8:00-12:00

中午

zhōng wǔ

12:00-14:00

下午

xià wǔ

14:00-18:00

晚上

wǎn shang

18:00-24:00-5:00


Examples:

8:15 a.m 上午八点一刻 shànɡ wǔ bā diǎn yí kè

12:00 p.m 中午十二点整 zhōnɡ wǔ shí èr diǎn zhěnɡ

4:30 p.m 下午四点半 xià wǔ sì diǎn bàn

9:20 p.m 晚上九点二十 wǎn shɑnɡ jiǔ diǎn èr shí

Also, "Jǐ diǎn 几点" is used to ask time, meaning "what time...?". "Excuse me, what is the time?" means "Qǐngwèn, xiànzài jǐ diǎn? 请问现在几点?". Please be aware that if asking the present time, you should keep "xiànzài", which means "exactly right now".

Now, let's have a look at the expressions of time and date.

年(nián)
Year

一(yī)九(jiǔ)九(jiǔ)九(jiǔ)年(nián)
Year 1999

二(èr)零(línɡ)零(línɡ)零(línɡ)年(nián)
Year 2000

二(èr)零(línɡ)一(yì)零(línɡ)年(nián)
Year 2010

二(èr)零(línɡ)一(yì)二(èr)年(nián)
Year 2012

月(yuè)
month

一(yī) 月(yuè)
January

二(èr) 月(yuè)
Febuary

十(shí)月(yuè)
October

十(shí) 二(èr) 月(yuè)
December

号(hào) / 日(rì)
Date of month

六(liù) 号(hào)
6th

十(shí)二(èr) 号(hào)
12th

二(èr) 十(shí) 八(bā) 号(hào)
28th

三(sān) 十(shí) 一(yī)号(hào)
31st

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)
week

星(xīnɡ) 期(qī) 一(yī)
Monday

星(xīnɡ) 期(qī) 二(èr)
Tuesday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)六(liù)
Saturday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)天(tiān)/日(rì)
Sunday


Please be aware that the order of the year, month, date and the day of the week in Chinese is as follows:

nián yuè rì , xīnɡ qī èr
2016年5月24日,星期二
Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

"Jǐ hào 几号" is used to inquire the date. For example:

běi jīnɡ de kè hù jǐ hào zǒu?
北京的客户几号走?
Which day do clients of Beijing leave?

tā xīnɡ qī jǐ huí měi ɡuó

他星期几回美国?
Which of the weekday will he return to the US?

nǐ de shēnɡ rì shì jǐ yuè jǐ hào?
你的生日是几月几号?
In which month and which day of your birthday?

Are you a little tired by reading all these example, why don't you join our daily Chinese course and learn it with our Chinese teachers! It will be more easily and full of fun!

About The Author

Julia Song

Julia Song is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Julia Song excels at linguistic pedagogy and one-on-one instruction with 8 years teaching experience and her cheerful attitude and close attention to her students' progress make her an excellent Mandarin teacher for students of all levels.

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