How to tell the Time in German

How to tell the Time in German

“Es ist genull Nau Uhr.” 

Well, this is a quite famous German meme, I think emitted by a radio station at exactly 12 pm. For sure you have noticed the error. Actually, this sentence should be “Es ist genau Null Uhr.” So, I think you don’t want to be part of the next time-meme in Germany, or well, even if you would want to be part of it, you should know how to tell the time in German.

But let’s be serious, telling the time in German is a crucial element of German language. At first, it might seem rather simple to you, but telling the time in German includes at lot of parts of German grammar and is, unfortunately, rather complicated sometimes.

But you simply have to see the positive side. Once you master telling the time in German, you will be able to do basic communication with native German speakers, you will know when the train arrives and will see really fast that your German becomes far more fluent.

German Time

The Importance of telling the Time in German

Well, as I already mentioned, the importance of telling the time in German is crucial. Obviously, there are a lot of section in daily life where you will have to apply your abilities to express time in German.

  1. In business situations, social interactions, in school, dating, and so much more it is very important simply to be in time! You will have to make appointments – something you can’t to without knowing how to tell the time in German.
  2. Traveling in German speaking countries becomes far more easier when you master telling the time in German. Logically, you will have to communicate with native people and know something about bus departure time, and much more.
  3. Well, isn’t it just really cool to be able to tell the time in German, no matter where you are in this world… ? 🙂

The Best Way of Learning How to Tell Time in German

So, we have finally reached the most important part of this article. Now, we are going to learn how to tell the time in German. Well, I think we should start with the very basic question you will have ask and that you will be asked when you are in German speaking countries.

  • “Entschuldigung, wie viel Uhr is es?” – Excuse me, what time is it?

This question in some variation will occur really often in your day-to-day life in German speaking countries, so learn this one carefully.

Another, really important part of telling the time in German is knowing the numbers from 1 to 59. Luckily, can offer you this article about German numbers, where you can find all the information you need to master this part of German.

Additionally, there is some German vocabulary you should know when telling time in German. Apart from the question for time, there are the following words. Well, I can really recommend this article about German time phrases in order to learn some more detailed information about this part of telling the time in German.

  • “Uhr” – The German equivalent of o’clock, used to denominate full hours.
  • “um” – Means at as in “Let’s meet at four o’clock”.
  • “vor” – Before like in “Seven minutes before midnight”.
  • “nach” – The antonym of vor, of course meaning after.
  • “viertel” – This means quarter like in quarter past/quarter to.
  • “halb” – meaning half and is used to denote the half hour intervals between full hours.

How to tell the Time in German

So, do you remember the wrong sentence from the beginning? Well, here is the correct way of telling the time in German. Actually, it’s the most common way of doing so.

  • “Es ist zwölf Uhr.” – It is twelve o’clock.

Of course, you can apply this way of expressing the time to any other time. Now that you know the numbers and words for before and after the hour, you can plug those into a common time-telling phrase.

  • “Es ist Viertel nach acht.” – It’s a quarter past eight.
  • Then we have “Es ist Viertel vor drei.” – It’s a quarter to three.
  • Finally, “Es ist halb sieben.” – It’s half an hour before seven.

Of course, there is also an exact way of telling the time in German. Unfortunately, it is a little but different from way we have learned above. But you will see that it’s no really difficult. So, for expressing the precise time, you have to say the hour first and then the word “Uhr” and at last the minutes. So, let’s look at this by an example.

  • “Es ist sieben Uhr dreizehn.” – It is 7:13.

Keep in mind, that in German speaking countries, the form of expressing time in 24-hour kind is used really frequently. Of course, its calculation is quite simple and doesn’t need any further explanation. Nevertheless, here is a table for you just in case you want to get sure to say the right time.

The 24-Hour-Time in German

1 pm13 Uhr
2 pm14 Uhr
3 pm15 Uhr
4 pm16 Uhr
5 pm17 Uhr
6 pm18 Uhr
7 pm19 Uhr
8 pm20 Uhr
9 pm21 Uhr
10 pm22 Uhr
11 pm23 Uhr
12 pm24 Uhr

Unfortunately, we have come to the end of this article. Luckily, we might think… But once you’ve in a German speaking country, you will understand the importance of telling the time in German. I hope, this article could help you to understand the basics of time in German – if you are interested in some more interesting facts, explanation and examples of German grammar, just have a look on the other topics on!


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