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Time

Quick revise

Quelle heure est-il? - What time is it?

To tell the time in French, you use the phrase il est … heures.

  • Il est une heure. - It's one o'clock.
  • Il est deux heures. - It's two o'clock.
  • Il est trois heures. - It's three o'clock.

As in English, there are special ways of saying midday and midnight:

  • Il est midi. - It's midday.
  • Il est minuit. - It's midnight.
  • To say 'half past' you add et demie to the end of the time phrase:
  • ll est une heure et demie. - It's half past one.
  • Il est cinq heures et demie. - It's half past five.
  • And for 'quarter past' you add et quart.
  • Il est deux heures et quart. - It's quarter past two.
  • Il est quatre heures et quart. - It's quarter past four.Be careful with that one!

Minutes past the hour work the same way, except you don't need the et:

  • Il est deux heures dix. - It's ten past two.
  • Il est dix heures vingt. - It's twenty past ten.
  • Il est cinq heures vingt-cinq. - It's twenty-five past five.
  • To say 'quarter to' or 'minutes to' you use moins le quart (minus a quarter) etc.
  • Il est deux heures moins le quart. - It's quarter to two (literally, it's two minus a quarter).
  • Il est six heures moins dix. - It's ten to six (literally it's six minus ten).
  • Il est minuit moins cinq. - It's five to midnight.

Be careful when you're telling the time using a digital clock though! 5.45 is 'quarter to six' so you say il est six heures moins le quart.
play this audio file

  • Il est six heures moins le quart. - It's quarter to six.
  • 12.35 is 'twenty-five to one' so you say il est une heure moins vingt-cinq.
  • Il est une heure moins vingt-cinq. - It's twenty-five to one.
  • To say 'at … o'clock' you say à … heures.
  • J'ai la récré à onze heures. - I have break at 11 o'clock.
  • À neuf heures, j'ai anglais. - At nine o'clock, I have English.

time

This short video shows useful French phrases for time

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