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Beginner Lesson 14.1 – Tell Time

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Am Or Pm? Tell Time In Chinese | Time Words In Chinese

Learn how to tell time in Chinese, whether it is AM or PM. Be able to say o'clock and minute in Chinese and learn some useful Time Words in Chinese.

  • Tell Time in Chinese: 年  月  日
  • Hour / O'clock and minute in Chinese: 点  分
  • Time Words in Chinese (II): 早上 上午 中午 下午 晚上. See also Time Words in Chinese (I).
  • AM or PM in Chinese
  • The Number Two in Chinese: 二 vs. 两 (I). See also (II) and (III).

VOCABULARY


EXPRESSIONS


GRAMMAR


Grammar 1: Tell Time in Chinese · HSK 1

……diǎn……fēn ……点……分 ...o'clock...minute

(1) To tell time in Chinese, we use this structure:

the number + 点 +.

  • wǔ diǎn shí fēn
    五点十分
    5:10
  • bā diǎn sānshíqī fēn
    八点三十七分
    8:37

(2) If the minute is more than one character, the character 分 can often be dropped.

  • liù diǎn 'èrshí fēn
    六点二十分
    6:20
  • liù diǎn 'èrshí
    六点二十
    6:20

(3) If the minute is only one digit, meaning less than 10. The "zero" cannot be dropped.

  • wǔ diǎn shí fēn
    五点十分
    5:10
  • liù diǎn líng sān fēn
    六点零三分
    6:03
  • liù diǎn sān fēn
    六点三分
    6:03

 

Grammar 2: Time Words in Chinese - AM or PM · HSK 1

shíjiāncí 时间词 Time Words in Chinese are special and can be considered as in their own category. Even though they are basically nouns that refer to a certain time or a certain amount of time, such as yesterday, morning, Monday, one hour, one month...

We learned two Time Words in Chinese in Lesson 11.1: 早上 and 晚上. In today's lesson, we will learn more of them because Time Words can tell whether it is AM or PM in Chinese. Here are some of the most common Time Words in Chinese. The hours they suggest is vague and not accurate; they only show what hour range each Time Word generally refers to:

zǎoshàng
早上
shàngwǔ
上午
zhōngwǔ
中午
xiàwǔ
下午
wǎnshàng
晚上

6 AM
-
9 AM

9 AM
-
11 AM

11 AM
-
1 PM

1 PM
-
6,7 PM

7 PM
-
12 AM

And if we want to tell whether it is AM or PM in Chinese, we use this structure:

Time Word + the Hour number + the Minute number

Here are some examples:

  • zǎoshàng jiǔdiǎn
    早上九点
    9am
  • shàngwǔ shídiǎn shífēn
    上午十点十分
    10:10am
  • zhōngwǔ shí'èr diǎn
    中午十二点
    12pm
  • xiàwǔ sāndiǎn 'érshí
    下午三点二十
    3:20pm
  • wǎnshàng bādiǎn
    晚上八点
    8pm

 

Grammar 3: The Number Two in Chinese (I): 二 vs. 两 · HSK 2

èr 二 vs. liǎng

There are two ways to say the number two in Chinese: 二 and 两. Sometimes we can use both, sometimes only 二 is appropriate and sometimes only 两 is appropriate. For mathematical usage, to say the number two in Chinese, 二 is generally used. To tell time in Chinese, for o'clock we have to say 两点 instead of 二点. However, for minute, if it's two minutes pass x o'clock, both 零两分 and 零二分 is okay to say.

  • liǎngdiǎn língliǎng fēn
    两点零两分
    2:02
  • liǎngdiǎn lín'èr fēn
    两点零二分
    2:02
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