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Chinese Lesson: Tell the Time in Chinese
  • We’ll begin by learning how to tell hours in Chinese. To tell the hour, simply say:
    number of the hour + 点 (diǎn – o’clock)
    For example:
    两点 (liǎng diǎn) - two o’clock
    七点 (qī diǎn) - seven o’clock
    十一点 (shí yī diǎn) - eleven o’clock
    十二点 (shí èr diǎn) - twelve o’clock
    To tell minutes in Chinese, use the formula:
    number + 分 (fēn – minutes)
    For example:
    十三分 (shí sān fēn) - thirteen minutes
    十四分 (shí sì fēn) - fourteen minutes
    三十三 (sān shí sān fēn) - thirty-three minutes
    五十 (wǔ shí fēn) - fifty minutes
    Note that, whereas in English it’s fine to omit the word “minutes” (for 8:10, we just say “eight ten”), in Chinese it sounds more natural to always include 分 and say “minutes.”
    So, it’s correct to say, “八点十分” (bā diǎn shí fēn), literally “eight o’clock ten minutes.”
    How to Tell Half and Quarter Hours
    To say “half past,” we use 半 (bàn) which means “half.”
    For example:
    五点半 (wǔ diǎn bàn) - half past five, 5:30.
    To indicate quarters, we say 一刻 (yī kè) which means “quarter hour.”
    For example:
    三点一刻 (sān diǎn yī kè) - quarter past three, 3:15.
    Let’s put it all together and go through some examples of telling time.
    十一点二十分 (shí yī diǎn è shí fēn) - eleven twenty
    四点十分 (sì diǎn shí fēn) - four ten
    九点十五分 (jǐu diǎn shí wǔ fēn) - nine fifteen
    九点一刻 (jǐu diǎn yī kè) - quarter after nine
    一点三十分 (yī diǎn sān shí fēn) - one thirty
    一点半 (yī diǎn bàn) - half past one
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