Ways To Say Time In German

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you planning a trip to Germany or simply interested in learning a new language? Well, look no further! In this article, we will explore the various ways to say time in German. Whether you’re using the 12-hour clock system or the 24-hour clock system, we’ve got you covered.

You’ll also learn how to talk about minutes and seconds, describe specific times of the day, and ask and respond to time-related questions. Additionally, we’ll provide you with common time-related vocabulary that you can use in different contexts.

To help you practice and reinforce your knowledge, we’ll include exercises throughout the article. So, get ready to dive into the world of German time expressions and enhance your language skills.

Let’s begin!

Basic Phrases for Telling Time

As the clock strikes midnight, you eagerly ask, ‘What’s the time?’

In German, there are basic phrases to tell time. To say ‘It’s one o’clock,’ you say ‘Es ist ein Uhr.’

For ‘It’s half past two,’ you say ‘Es ist halb drei.’

And for ‘It’s quarter to four,’ you say ‘Es ist Viertel vor vier.’

These phrases will help you communicate time effectively in German.

Using the 12-Hour Clock System

Using the 12-hour clock system makes telling time in German a breeze! Instead of using the 24-hour system, Germans commonly use the 12-hour system to express time.

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To indicate the hour, simply state the number followed by ‘Uhr’ (hour). For example, 1:00 PM is ‘ein Uhr’ and 6:00 AM is ‘sechs Uhr.’

To indicate the minutes, use the word ‘nach’ (past) or ‘vor’ (to) followed by the number of minutes. For example, 3:15 PM is ‘drei Uhr fünfzehn nachmittags.’

Using the 24-Hour Clock System

The 24-hour clock system in German simplifies time-telling with its straightforward approach. Instead of using AM and PM, the 24-hour clock assigns a number to each hour of the day. To express time, simply state the hour followed by ‘Uhr.’ For example, 2:00 PM is ’14 Uhr’ and 9:30 PM is ’21:30 Uhr.’

This system eliminates confusion and allows for precise time communication in German-speaking countries.

Talking about Minutes and Seconds

Imagine effortlessly discussing the precise duration of an event by incorporating minutes and seconds into your conversation! In German, when talking about minutes, simply state the number followed by the word ‘Minuten.’ For example, ‘fünf Minuten’ means ‘five minutes.’

To mention seconds, use the word ‘Sekunden’ after the number. So, ‘zwei Sekunden’ translates to ‘two seconds.’

With these simple phrases, you can accurately convey time in German conversations.

Describing Specific Times of the Day

Contractions make it easy to express specific times of the day in German conversations. For example, to say ‘at one o’clock,’ you can simply say ‘um eins.’

If it’s half past two, you can say ‘halb drei.’

To describe quarter past four, you can say ‘viertel nach vier.’

Using these contractions, you can effortlessly communicate specific times in German without any confusion.

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Discussing Time Duration

Now that you’ve learned how to describe specific times of the day in German, let’s move on to discussing time duration.

In German, there are different ways to express how long something takes or how long something lasts. Whether you want to talk about minutes, hours, or even days, I’ll show you the various phrases and expressions you can use to convey time duration in German.

Asking and Responding to Time-related Questions

To inquire about time-related information, you can use different interrogative phrases and respond eloquently.

When asking for the time, you can say ‘Wie spät ist es?’ which means ‘What time is it?’

To ask about someone’s availability, you can say ‘Wann hast du Zeit?’ meaning ‘When do you have time?’

Responding to these questions, you can say the specific time or duration, such as ‘Es ist 3 Uhr’ (It’s 3 o’clock) or ‘Ich habe eine Stunde Zeit’ (I have an hour).

Talking about Time in Different Contexts

In everyday conversations, Germans have interesting expressions to discuss the passage of time. For example, when talking about the duration of an event, they may use the phrase ‘X Stunden lang’ which means ‘for X hours long.’

Additionally, when discussing time in relation to future plans, Germans often use the phrase ‘in X Wochen’ which translates to ‘in X weeks.’

These expressions add depth and specificity to time-related discussions in German.

Common Time-related Vocabulary

Imagine effortlessly conversing about time in German with common time-related vocabulary. You’ll be able to express the current time by saying, ‘Es ist’ followed by the hour and minutes. For example, ‘Es ist zwei Uhr fünfzehn’ means ‘It is 2:15.’

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To discuss specific times in the past or future, you can use the word ‘um’ followed by the hour. For instance, ‘Wir treffen uns um acht Uhr’ means ‘We’re meeting at 8 o’clock.’

Practicing Time Expressions through Exercises

Try out these exercises to practice using time expressions in German and enhance your conversational skills.

Start by writing out the time in German for the following phrases:

  • ‘It’s half past two’
  • ‘It’s quarter to five’
  • ‘It’s ten minutes past twelve’

Next, try translating the following sentences into German:

  • ‘I have a meeting at 3 o’clock’
  • ‘She wakes up at 7:30’
  • ‘They leave the house at 6:15’

These exercises will help you become more comfortable with using time expressions in German conversations.


In conclusion, learning how to tell time in German is an essential skill for anyone wanting to communicate effectively in the language. By mastering the basic phrases and understanding the different clock systems, you can confidently talk about time in various contexts.

Whether you’re asking for the time, describing specific times of the day, or discussing time-related topics, these language skills will come in handy. Practice using time expressions through exercises to reinforce your understanding and fluency.

With dedication and practice, you’ll soon be able to express time accurately in German.