Telling the Time

To tell the time means to say what the time is, perhaps after somebody asks the time.

Asking the time

Here are some phrases you can use when you want to know the time:

Telling the time

To tell someone what the time is, we can say "The time is..." or, more usually, "It's...". Here is a typical dialogue:

Question: What's the time, please?
Answer: It's three o'clock.

The chart below shows you two different ways to tell someone what the time is.

  more formal less formal
It's... It's...
3.00 three o'clock three
3.02 just gone three o'clock three oh two
3.03 three minutes past three three oh three
3.05 five past three three oh five
3.09 nine minutes past three three oh nine
3.10 ten past three three ten
3.15 a quarter past three three fifteen
3.20 twenty past three three twenty
3.21 twenty-one minutes past three three twenty-one
3.25 twenty-five past three three twenty-five
3.30 half past three three thirty
3.35 twenty-five to four three thirty-five
3.40 twenty to four three forty
3.45 a quarter to four three forty-five
3.50 ten to four three fifty
3.55 five to four three fifty-five
3.57 three minutes to four three fifty-seven
3.58 nearly four o'clock three fifty-eight
4.00 four o'clock four

Listen to Tick Tick Rock with subtitles. You can also read the lyrics below.

Tick Tock Rock lyrics:

One o'clock
Two o'clock
Three o'clock
Four o'clock
Five o'clock
Six o'clock
Seven o'clock
Eight o'clock
Nine o'clock
Ten o'clock
Eleven o'clock
Twelve o'clock

Tick Tock Tick Tock
as the hands go round the clock

five past one
ten past two
quarter past three
twenty past four
twenty-five past five
half past six
twenty-five to seven
twenty to eight
quarter to nine
ten to ten
five to eleven
twelve o'clock

One o'clock
Two o'clock
Three o'clock
Four o'clock
Five o'clock
Six o'clock
Seven o'clock
Eight o'clock
Nine o'clock
Ten o'clock
Eleven o'clock
Twelve o'clock

Tick Tock Tick Tock
as the hands go round the clock

five past one
ten past two
quarter past three
twenty past four
twenty-five past five
half past six
twenty-five to seven
twenty to eight
quarter to nine
ten to ten
five to eleven
twelve o'clock

And it all starts again...