Time is an integral part of the conversations we have every day.

It goes beyond simply stating that it is 2:00 or 4:15 Learning to tell time in German allows you to better participate in German social situations, helps you avoid missing your train, and opens up new narrative possibilities.

If you get giddy thinking about "a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." and then freak out when you realize "our train leaves in five minutes," you might be a fan of science fiction or a train freak. You understand what I'm talking about

Ability to tell time is foundational to discussing the past, present, and future. In this piece, I hope to lay the groundwork for you to express the correct time, make plans with others, and comprehend some of the nuances of German time culture.

Words to Know for Telling Time in German

First, let's go over some of the basics for describing the time of day and the days of the week in German. You can use these flashcards as part of a spaced repetition study system, or just as part of your general review.

  • Uhr means "hour" or "o'clock" in English.
  • Previous to; vor
  • after; in the past; nach.
  • a "quarter" in the number system; "viertel."
  • A German word meaning "half" or "one-half."
  • Five, or fünf.
  • thirty (german: dreißig)
  • The German word for "time" is Zeit.
  • um - "at" (time-related).
  • The German word gegen means "round" or "-ish."
  • jetzt - "today:
  • the day before yesterday; german: gestern
  • german for "tomorrow"; morgen.
  • Wek means "week" in German.
  • It's the weekend, or the "Wochenende" in German.
  • This phrase literally translates to "tomorrow morning" in English.
  • Prior to noon; in German, vormittag.
  • Midday; mittag.
  • After lunchtime; in German, nachmittags.
  • Afternoon; Abend in German.
  • The German word for "evening" is "Nacht."
  • The day after tomorrow, or "übermorgen."
  • The word "before yesterday" is spelled "vorgestern" in German.
  • the time if/when
  • as well as, or when

The German language is rich with words that have multiple meanings. Keep in mind that these are just their time-related definitions.

To tell numerical time in Germany, you'll also need to know the German numbers.

How to Tell Time in Germany Without Looking at a Watch

First, we'll go over the basics of reading the numbers on a German clock.

At That Time Of Day

This is the format for expressing an hourly time, such as 1 o'clock or 5 o'clock:

It's [number] o'clock/"Es ist [number] Uhr."

The structure is the same as English, making it easy to learn and memorize. See how that would work in practice below:

  • It's 2:00 p.m., or "Es ist zwei Uhr," in German.
  • It's 5 o'clock, or Es ist fünf Uhr in German.
  • "It is ten o'clock" translates to the German phrase Es ist zehn Uhr.

Similar to English, the 12-hour clock is also usable. So, "two o'clock" (also known as "zwei Uhr") can be used for both the morning and afternoon. If you insist on sticking to 12-hour time, remember that there is no a m or p m Alternately, you could say morgens ("in the morning"), nachmittags ("in the afternoon"), abends ("in the evening"), or einfach "nachts" ("at night"). Mittag (noon) and Mitternacht (midnight) both mean "twelve o'clock" in German.

However, unlike in English, Germans can express time using the 24-hour clock. I'll give you an example:

  • It's fifteen o'clock in the afternoon (or "Es ist fünfzehn Uhr," which translates to "It is fifteen o
  • It's twenty past the hour, or 20:00.
  • The time now is 22:00 (or 22 o'clock) in German.

Do not confuse this with the military time used in the English-speaking world. In contrast to American usage, they do not refer to fifteen hundred hours as "hours." This is still the number after Uhr.

Precisely When

The sentence structure for doing so is also rather straightforward, right down to the minute. Also, much less complicated than the English language Take a look at how it works:

It is currently o'clock the given number of hours (Es ist [Number] Uhr [Number]).

Consider these few instances:

  • Time in seconds: 2:16
  • It is now 5:02 PM.
  • The time now is 10:34 PM (10:34).

And you're still here, right? Good Success is yours.

Rounding up to a more convenient time expression is a simple way to keep things straightforward, just as it is in English.

Which Comes First, Half Past Four Or Half Past Five? Tip: Rounding to the Half Hour

You can express the half-hour in German time, just as you're probably used to doing in your own time zone. It is customary to refer to the time as "half past" when it is 27 minutes past or 27 minutes to.

Germans, on the other hand, tend to discuss the hour to come rather than the one that has just passed. Here's why:

Check out these three different timestamps In English, how would you say those things?

Each of these would be expressed as "half 5", "half 9", and "half 10" in British English. In German, however, they would be written as "half an hour from now." Like this:

  • It's half past five o'clock (or 'half six')
  • Half past nine (or half past ten)
  • Two hours and thirty seconds past ten o'clock, or "halb elf."

This is the most common form of Hochdeutsch I've encountered in Germany. Don't be discouraged if it takes a while for this to make sense to you.

If you need to tell time and keep mixing up the formats, that's okay. If you prefer, you can also simply refer back to the previous section and say, "It's 30 minutes past the hour."

German Rounding Methods That Don't Include "Quarter to" or "Quarter Past"

In addition to the standard hour markers, German time also allows for the rounding to the nearest five minutes or ten minutes. This is achieved via the following sentence structure:

It is halfway through the hour (it is quarter past the hour).
It's a quarter before the given number, or "Es viertel vor [number]."

Almost identical to the English version. Several instances are as follows:

  • It is a quarter to three, or in German: Es ist viertel nach drei.
  • It is halfway through the hour, or as the Germans say, viertel nach zwölf.
  • It's a quarter past four, or "Es ist viertel vor vier."
  • It's a quarter to nine, or Es viertel vor neun.

Always a quarter to the next hour and a quarter past the current one Nonetheless, caution is advised. It's best to clarify the meaning of viertel if neither vor nor nach are used. Further developing the halb sechs logic, some regions use viertel sechs (literally "quarter six") for "quarter past five" and dreiviertel sechs for "quarter to six." However, if either vor or nach is used, there can be no confusion.

In German, there is an alternative method of rounding. 25 to or 25 past is also a common expression in English. The Germans do this as well, though they word it differently. Five minutes before or after half past, so they say. This is coupled with the practice of rounding up to the next hour, which we discussed in the preceding paragraph. Yes, I'm aware that I know )

As a matter of convenience, let's use precise timestamps. However, these can be employed when a time expression requires rounding off. And now, the deets:

These phrases would be expressed as:

  • It's five minutes to half past six, or Es ist fünf vor halb sieben (in German).
  • It's five minutes to half past nine, or "Es ist fünf vor halb zehn."
  • It is five minutes after half past ten, or es cinq nach halb elf.
  • It's five minutes after eleven o'clock, or Es ist fünf nach halb zwölf.

It's not an expression I find myself using frequently. You shouldn't feel pressured to learn the phrase's proper pronunciation. You should know that Germans tend to use it quite frequently. And you can avoid the, "What the heck did you just say?" by simply being aware of its existence. When I first heard it, I made this

Phew That's all the calculating we need to do, so we should be good to go Okay, let's move on to the next part, in which we'll be requesting more time.

In this article, we'll examine some inquiries you may receive (or formulate for yourself) regarding the present moment.

Herr Wolf, what time is it?

Asking the time in German can be done in a few different ways.

Simply asking one of these questions will elicit one of the expressions described in the previous section, which will tell you the time on the clock.

  • How many hours do we have How Late Is It? " (How many hours do we have? )
  • How Late Is It, Anyway? How Late Is It? ) (How late is it, literally. )
  • Excuse me, but could you tell me what time it is? I hope you don't mind my interrupting, but do you happen to have a moment to (Literally, and in polite German)

You could use the first two on this list in everyday speech amongst pals. Your third and final option is to ask a random person on the street or in a store if they know what time it is. Choosing this course of action is the politest possible alternative.

Where you live will also play a role in this. In Cologne, for instance, you can use the rude form unless the person is obviously older than you. But you might get some strange looks if you tried that in Bavaria.

Scheduling a get-together with pals

Meeting friends for coffee the following day is a great example of making future plans, but you'll need to know the exact time you're going to meet if you want to make the most of the conversation.

A quick and easy way to get that data is to:

  • When do you want to meet up? what time? When do you propose we get together? ”

This inquiry gives them the opportunity to propose a time and place for the meeting. The words um and gegen can also be used to imply a time frame if you already have one in mind.

  • Can we get together on Wednesday at 13:00? (Shall we assemble at one o'clock? )
  • To meet at 13:00 today ) Shall we convene at 13:00? )
  • Can we get together at around 13:00? (Should we try to get together at 13:00?) )
  • Should we get together at 13:00? Should we get together at 13? )

They can then let you know if it's convenient for them to meet then or if they'd prefer to set a different time.

In Conclusion

If you've been following along, by now you should know how to tell time in German and how to ask some simple questions about time in German. Using this data, arranging a trip shouldn't be difficult.

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