Learning to tell the time in a new language is imperative! When you don’t know how to do it, you can easily get confused and arrive too early or too late to your appointments, or even worse, to your dates, like the character in the song previously mentioned. If you want to master how to tell the time in French, keep on reading. Here you will find:

  • some rules to tell the time in French
  • how to tell the time
  • how to ask the time
  • How to write the time
  • Some dialogues to exemplify all of the above

We can assure you: you will never arrive late again if you get to the end of this article! Remember: an early bird catches the worm! So, let ‘s hurry up!

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Some Rules To Tell The Time In French

First of all, take into account that the words “heure” or “heures” must always be included when you tell the time in French. See the difference between English and French:

It’s almost one. Il est presque une heure.
The teacher will be here at five thirty.Le professeur arrive à cinq heures trente.

As you can notice, the word “hour” is a noun, so you can use it in singular form and also in plural form.

In French, usually time is based on the 24-hour clock. For example, 1 pm is 13h00.

The phrase to say the time is: “Il est…”  For example: Il est minuit.

Use the phrases:

  • du matin to mean a.m.
  • de l’après-midi from noon until 6 p.m.
  • du soir until midnight

In English a colon is used to separate the hours from the minutes: 11:30 am.  In French, the abbreviation “h” is used instead of the colon: 11h30, 14h20, 2h00, 19h30.

Essential Words To Tell The Time In French

an hour une heure
a minute une minute
a secondune seconde
half an hourune demi-heure
a quarter of an hour un quart d'heure
an hour and a halfune heure et demie
a time zoneun fuseau horaire
the time differencele décalage horaire
at 7 a.m. local timeà 7 heures, heure locales
the morningle matin
at noonà midi
the afternoon l’après-midi
the eveningle soir
at nightla nuit
at midnightà minuit
at dawn à l’aube
at sunriseau lever du soleil
at duskau crépuscule
at sunsetau coucher du soleil
a clock une horloge
an alarm clockun réveil
a watchune montre

How Do We Ask For The Time In French?

In order to ask for the time in French, you can use the following questions:

Asking For The Time In French – Demander l’heure en français

What time is it?Quelle heure est-il?
Have you got the time?Avez-vous l’heure?
What time do you make it?Vous avez quelle heure?
What time did you leave?À quelle heure êtes-vous parti?

How Do We Write The Time In French?

It 's six o’clockIl est six heures
at ten o’clockà dix heures
at twenty past fiveà cinq heures vingt
it’s five past eightil est huit heure cinq
it’s half past nineil est neuf heures et demie
it’s a quarter to sevenil est sept heures moins le quart
at 4.25 a.m.à 4h25 (du matin)
at 7 o’ clock in the morningà 7h00 du matin
at 6:30 p.m.à 18h30
at 10:00 p.mà 22h
it’s about three il est environ trois heures
it’s almost midnightil est presque minuit
towards eight o’clockvers huit heures
it’s just after two il est un peu plus de deux heures
at ten o’clock sharpà dix heures pile

Some Examples

Telling The Time – Dire l’heure

A: Sorry, what time is it?
B: I’m sorry, I don’t have a watch, so I can’t tell you the time.
A: Pardon, il est quelle heure ?
B: Désolé, je n’ai pas de montre et je ne peux pas vous dire l’heure.
A: When do you need to be at the airport tomorrow?
B: at midday.
A: À quelle heure dois-tu être à l'aéroport demain ?
B: à midi.
A: What time do you have to meet your brother?
B: At a quarter to three.
A: À quelle heure dois-tu voir ton frère?
B: à trois heures moins le quart.
A: What time does the match start?
B: at 2:30 p.m.
A: À quelle heure commence le match?
B: à deux heures et demie. / à quatorze heures trente.

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