• Yaniv Iczkovits

Mistake-free Mondays - Time

Let’s start with how to ask about time. If we translate from Hebrew, we would probably say something like this: “What the time?” or “What the hour?” But this is definitely wrong.

Sometimes people say “What’s the time?” This is a shorter version of “What is the time?” (Because “what’s” is a contraction of the words “what is”). Either of these two options is technically correct, but to be honest, that’s not how native English speakers in the US would say it.

The most common way of asking about the time is to say “What time is it?”

Now let’s talk about the answer...

If it’s 10:30, for example, you should say “ten thirty”. This is the most common way to answer this question. We cannot answer the way we do in Hebrew; we can’t say “ten and a half”. This is incorrect.

There is one more way to answer this question in English, but it’s more formal. Specifically, you can say “It’s half past ten”. Although the British are likely to use this option, you will rarely hear Americans answer this way. It’s grammatically correct, but is considered very formal.

So, when you want to state the time, just say the numbers. For example: “eight twenty” or “nine forty”. And if it’s 9:05, then say: “nine oh five”.

What if it’s something like 11:15 or 11:45? In cases like that, you have 2 options:

· You can just say the numbers: “eleven fifteen” or “eleven forty-five

· You can use the words “quarter after eleven” or “quarter to twelve

[You can also say “quarter past eleven”, but this is more formal than saying “quarter after eleven”.]

Until now, we have spoken about how to verbally ask and answer questions about time. However, let’s just take a minute to talk about how to write it.

In the US, we don’t use military time so we would never write something like this:

The meeting will begin at 15:00”.

In Hebrew, although we wouldn’t say it like that, we would write it like that. However in American English, that is simply not done. So, remember not to use military time when corresponding with your American colleagues. Instead, write them something like this:

The meeting will begin at 3:00pm”.

One final tip for today: Use “am” and “pm” correctly.

Ø AM: Starts at midnight – Ends at 11:59 in the morning

Ø PM: Starts at noon – Ends at 11:59 at night


I hope today’s post has been helpful. Let us know… :)

And join us next week for more helpful tips on Mistake-free Mondays.

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