What are Phrasal Verbs?

ALULA staff, Updated on August 24, 2023

  • We say the hour first, then the minute. E.g. 4:30 (Four thirty).
  • The word "o'clock" is used when it's exactly on the hour.
  • "AM" and "PM" denote the time of the day: "AM" is for midnight to midday, "PM" for midday to midnight.
  • Instead of "AM" or "PM", you can also say "in the morning", "in the afternoon", or "in the evening".
  • "Half past," "quarter past," and "quarter to" indicate 30, 15 minutes past the hour and 15 minutes to the hour respectively.
  • When stating the time in a sentence, we typically use "It is..." or "It's..." before the time.

It's time to learn how to tell the time in English! Telling time is a basic skill that can help you communicate effectively in a variety of situations. Whether you're asking for the time, scheduling a meeting, or just simply stating the time, it's key to know how. Now, let's get started.

The Basics of Telling Time

We say the hour first, then the minute. We can say the second, too, after the minute.

We use "It is ..." to tell the time in a sentence.


  • 5:25 (Five twenty-five)

    Hour = 5. Minutes = 25.

  • It's 9:53 (Nine fifty-three)

    Hour = 9. Minutes = 53.

When it's exactly on the hour - use the word "o'clock"

"O'clock" is an old English word that means "of the clock." We only use "o'clock" when it's exactly on the hour without any minutes.


  • It's nine o'clock.

    It is exactly 9:00.

  • It's five o'clock.

    It is exactly 5:00.

Using the words "half" and "quarter"

We use "half past ..." when it's 30 minutes past the hour. "Half" means 1/2 (= 30 minutes).

We use "quarter past ..." or "quarter after ..." when it's 15 minutes past the hour. "Quarter" means 1/4 (= 15 minutes).

We use "quarter to" when it's 15 minutes to the hour.


  • It's half past two.

    This means it is 2:30. "Half past two" means 2:00 + 30 minutes.

  • It's quarter past eleven.

    This means it is 11:15. "Quarter past eleven" means 11:00 + 15 minutes.

  • It's quarter to five.

    This means it is 4:45. "Quarter to five" means 5:00 - 15 minutes.

AM vs PM

"AM" is used from midnight (0:00) to midday (12:00). "PM" is used from midday (12:00) to midnight (23:59).

You can also add "in the morning", "in the afternoon", after "in the evening" after the time.


  • It's 10 AM.

    It's 10 in the morning.

    They mean the same thing.

  • Let's meet at 7:15 PM.

    Let's meet at a quarter past 7 in the evening.

    They mean the same thing.

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