How to Talk About Time in Chinese

Posted by Clarice Zhao on Oct 16, 2015

learn chinese timeTime words are a few of the most important words in Chinese; we use these words everyday. And when talking about time, we definitely use numbers. Hence, if you want to learn time words in Chinese, the first step is to learn how to say numbers.

The Chinese numbering system is very logical and builds upon itself. And once you grasp the concept, you can learn the Chinese number system very quickly.

Start by learning the most basic numbers from 1-10. You need to memorize these words:

1---yī 2---èr 3---sān 4---sì 5---wǔ 6---liù 7---qī 8---bā 9---jiǔ 10--- shí

When we say 11-19, cause there is 10 +X ,so the pronounciation will be shi+X

11---shíyī 12---shíèr 13---shísān 14---shísì 15---shíwǔ 16---shíliù 17---shíqī 18---shíbā 19--- shíjiǔ

When we say a number like 20, 30, 40 or 50, you can treat it like two tens, three tens such like these. So the number will be:

20---èrshí 30---sānshí 40---sìshí 50---wǔshí 60---liùshí 70---qīshí 80---bāshí 90--- jiǔshí

Now we know how to say 20,30,40. Now let's try to use the same rule to count 21-29, 31-39 these kind of words.

21---èrshíyī 22---èrshíèr 23---èrshísān 24---èrshísì 25---èrshíwǔ 26---èrshíliù 27---èrshíqí 28---èrshíbá 29---èrshíjiǔ 31---sānshíyī 32---sānshíèr 33---sānshísān 34---sānshísì 35---sānshíwǔ 36---sānshíliù 37---sānshíqī 38---sānshíbā 39--- sānshíjiǔ

Please try to pronounce the last numbers from 1-99. And hundred is bǎi, thousand is qiān , ten thousand is wàn.

After learing these numbers,we can focus on expressing time. In chinese, the o'clock mesans "dian", hence,3:00 is"sāndiǎn",at the same 7:00 is "qīdiǎn". Minute in chinese is "fēn",so let's try to translate these times:

3:15 --- sāndiǎnshíwǔfēn 7:28 --- qīdiǎnèrshíbāfēn 4:36 --- sìdiǎnsānshíliùfēn

There also are some special times to say, such as a quarter past one, half past one, a quarter to two. Quarter in Chinese is'kè'. For example, 1:15 is 'yìdiǎnyíkè', and 1:45 we can say 'yìdiǎnsānkè', but most of times,we say 'chàyíkèliǎnɡdiǎn'. The last one is 1:30 will be 'yìdiǎnbàn'.

It is pretty simple right? Now try to use the time words to describe time. And if you think it is not enough for you , you also want to learn the words morning, midnight, September etc., please click this link and try a free trial to learn more.

About The Author

Clarice Zhao

Clarice Zhao is a Chinese Learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin who graduated from Beijing Language and Culture University. As an expert in linguistics, pedagogy, and Chinese culture, Clarice is committed to helping her students succeed.

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