How to tell the time in English

English Speaking Topic

Telling time in English

Listen to the telephone conversation between a secretary and a man calling to make an appointment. This speaking topic will help you learn how to make a phone call, how to make an appoinment and how to tell time and date in English.

Secretary Good afternoon. Mr. Kelly’s office.
Caller Hello. It’s William Dean. Can I make an appointment with Mr. Kelly, please?
Secretary Yes, certainly. Can you come on Monday the nineteenth of June at half past three?
Caller No, I’m sorry. I can’t make that. I’m at a conference.
Secretary Well, can you come on Thursday the twenty-second of June at quarter past ten?
Caller Yes, that’s fine.
Secretary OK, so that’s Thursday the twenty-second of June at quarter past ten.
Caller Thank you. Goodbye.
Secretary Goodbye.


Language Notes:

appointment (n)
an arrangement to meet a person or be at a place at a certain time.

to make an appointment
to arrange a meeting with someone.

certainly (adv)
of course, surely, definitely

conference (n)
a meeting for consultation, exchange of information, or discussion

quarter (n)
one fourth of an hour; 15 minutes.

a quarter past ten
fifteen minutes past ten


How to tell the time in English?



A new day starts at midnight when it is 00:00 hour. The morning is a.m which starts from 00:00 to 12:00 at midday or noon. The sunrise is called at dawn at around 06:00 or 06am.

The afternoon is from 12:00pm to 06:00pm when it is sunset or at dusk. The p.m. is from 12:00 midday to 12:00 or 00:00 midnight.


telling time in English


Look at the table below and learn how to read the clock with past and to: the orange color is past and green color is to

1 five past 7 twenty five to
2 ten past 8 twenty to
3 quarter past 9 quarter to
4 twenty past 10 ten to
5 twenty five past 11 five to
6 half past 12 o clock


03:00 – It’s three o’clock. 03:35 – It’s twenty five to four.
03:05 – It’s five past three. 03:40 – It’s twenty to four.
03:10 – It’s ten past three. 03:45 – It’s fifteen to four.
03:15 – It’s fifteen past three. 03:50 – It’s ten to four.
03:20 – It’s twenty past three. 03:55 – It’s five to four.
03:25 – It’s twentyfive past three. 03:15 – It’s a quarter past three
03:30 – It’s half past three. 03:45 – It’s a quarter to four.

Click here to learn more about how to tell the time in English.

Use At+time when giving the time of a specific event.

  • The train leaves at seven o’clock
  • The yoga class starts at a quarter to six.

Use It’s or It is to answer a question that asks for the time right now.

  • What’s the time? – It’s twenty past eleven.
  • What time is it? – It is seven o’clock.

Learn more“On time” and “in time”, what is the difference?


Telling the time exercises

[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s seven o’clock.” options=”It’s half past seven.|It’s twenty to twelve.|It’s seven o’clock.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s seven o’clock.”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s twelve o’clock.” options=”It’s twelve o’clock.|It’s half past twelve.|It’s a quarter to twelve.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s twelve o’clock.”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s ten past three.” options=”It’s a quarter past two.|It’s ten past three.|It’s fifteen past two” notes=”Correct answer: It’s ten past three.”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s ten to five.” options=”It’s five to ten.|It’s twenty past five.|It’s ten to five.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s ten to five.”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s fifteen to eleven” options=”It’s fifteen to eleven|It’s five to nine|It’s fifteen past eleven” notes=”Correct answer: It’s fifteen to eleven”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s twenty five to nine.” options=”It’s half past eight.|It’s twenty five to nine.|It’s twenty five past eight.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s twenty five to nine.”]


[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s a quarter past nine.” options=”It’s fifteen to nine|It’s a quarter past nine.|It’s a quarter to three.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s a quarter past nine.”]



[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s five past eleven.” options=”It’s five past eleven.|It’s eleven past five.|It’s five to one.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s five past eleven.”]



[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s ten past two” options=”It’s ten past ten|It’s ten past two|It’s two past ten” notes=”Correct answer: It’s ten past two.”]



[rapid_quiz question=”What time is it?” answer=”It’s half past six.” options=”It’s half past six.|It’s twenty five to seven.|It’s half past seven.” notes=”Correct answer: It’s half past six.”]

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