Talking about time

There is no 24-hour time system in English, rather a 12-hour system. This means that people only count from 0 to 12, not to 24 as they do in some countries. The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. indicate whether a time before or after midday is meant. To indicate that you talk about 10 in the morning, you add a.m. Take for example: "It's 10 a.m." The abbreviation a.m. is Latin and means ante meridiem, which literally means before midday. This covers any time between midnight and midday. When you talk about a time in the afternoon or in the evening, you add p.m. Take for example: "It's 2 p.m." The abbreviation p.m. is Latin and means post meridiem, which literally means after midday.

Usage of abbreviations and time specifications

 
   
 
   
 
00:00
 
midnight
 
0:01
 
12:01 am
 
8:00
 
8:00 am
 
12:00
 
noon
 
12:01
 
12:01 pm
 
14:00
 
2 pm
 
18:00
 
6 pm
 
23:59
 
11:59 pm
 
 
 
 

Phrases

Asking the time

 
   
 
   
 
What time is it?
 
 
What's the time, please?
 
 
Could you tell me the time, please?
 
 
 
 
 

Telling the time

 
   
 
   
 
It’s eight forty-five.
 
 
It’s twelve oh nine (the zero in 12:09 is pronounced as “oh”.)
 
 
It’s fifteen minutes to seven.
 
 
It’s fifteen minutes past seven.
 
 
It’s 10 am.
 
 
It’s 10 p.m.
 
 
It’s five o’clock.
 
 
It's quarter past /to seven.
 
 
It's half past six.
 
 
 
 
 

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