French Podcast Transcripts

How to understand and say the time in French

Today, you will learn how to read and say the time in French! Before we start, make sure to know your numbers! For that, go ahead and listen to this two previous episodes about counting in French:

How to count in French from one to twenty :

How to count from twenty to one hundred in French:

#1 How to understand the time in French

Always starts by ‘il est‘ …. ‘il est‘… it is…. and ALWAYS finish by ‘heures’ … you pronounce ‘uhr’ like in ‘butter… and you link it together such as ‘il est deux heures’…….

#2 French time from 1am until noon

il est une heure / deux heures/ trois heures. quatre heures/ cinq heures/six heures/sept heures/huit heures/neuf heures/dix heures/ onze heures/ douze heures ou midi. You can addd ‘du matin‘ if before noon such as ‘il est dix heures du matin’. In spoken French, we say ‘du mat’ very often when between 1am and 6 am … ‘cinq heures du mat’… deux heures du mat

#3 French time from 1pm until midnight

Here you have a choice, you can use the army time and keep counting up to twenty four or just reset to one, two, three…. Let’s start with the military time

il est treize heures / quatorze heures / quinze heures / seize heures/ dix-sept heures/dix-huit heures/ dix-neuf heures/vingt heures/ vingt-et-une heures/vingt-deux heures/vingt-trois heures and il est minuit… for midnight.

From 1pm to 4pm, you can also add ‘de l’après-midi’ (in the afternoon), such as ‘il est deux heures de l’après-midi…. and add ‘du soir‘ after 5pm such as ‘il est sept heures du soir’

1 pm = treize heures (13h)
2 pm = quatorze heures (14h)
3pm = quinze heures (15h)
4pm = seize heures (16h)
5pm = dix-sept heures (17h)
6pm = dix-huit heures (18h)
7pm = dix-neuf heures (19h)
8pm = vingt heures (20h)
9pm = vingt-et-une heures (21h)
10 pm = vingt-deux heures (22h)
11 pm = vingt-trois heures (23h)

#4 How to say ‘quarter past/quarter’ after in French?

You will say ‘et quart‘ for instance, for 10:15, you say ‘il est dix heures et quart’, for 4:15, il est quatre heures et quart. You don’t use ‘et quart’ with the military time, you say ‘il est dix heures quinze’ or ‘il est seize heures quinze’.

#5 How to say ‘half past’ in French?

You will say ‘Et demie‘… like ‘Il est cinq heures et demie’….. or. … ‘il est onze heures et demie’… For all the minutes between zero and thirty, you say il est est trois heures dix.. (3:10) or il est vingt heures vingt-cinq (8:15 pm)

#6 How say ‘quarter to’ in French?

You will ‘moins le quart‘ meaning ‘minus a quarter’. so for instance, for 7:45 you say ‘il est huit heures moins le quart… for 2:45, il est trois heures moins le quart…

For all the minutes between zero and thirty, you say il est est trois heures dix.. (3:10) or il est vingt heures vingt-cinq (8:15 pm). For all the minutes between 35 and sixty, you will use ‘moins+number of minutes‘…. you will say out loud ‘il est huit heures moins vingt’ for 7:40 or ‘il est deux heures moins dix’ for 1:50.

Génial ! Now, you know how to say and read the time in French!

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