How to ask and tell the time in Italian

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Welcome to our Italian grammar course for beginners! Today we`re going to talk about telling time.

Telling time involves using both numbers and specific phrases. Telling time in Italian might seem a bit tricky at first, but with a little practice, you`ll master it in no time. Let`s break it down.

You can listen to all phrases in Italian used in the article online by pressing the Play button:

First, let`s start with the basics. In Italian, we often use the 24-hour clock, so it`s a bit different from the 12-hour clock you might be used to. But don`t worry, it`s not too complicated.

The structure for saying the time is "Sono le" for "It is," followed by the hour and minutes.
"Sono le tre" (It`s 3 o’clock.)
"Sono le dieci" (It`s 10 o`clock.)
Exception: we should use "È l`una" when you are going to say "1 o’clock."

To express the hours from 1 to 12, use the numbers (from "uno" to "dodici".) More about italian numbers is here.
If you need to specify the time, you can use the words "mezzogiorno" (noon, 12:00 PM), and "mezzanotte" (midnight, 12:00 AM).

If it is necessary to say not only about hours, but also minutes, we use "e" ("and.")
For example:
"Sono le tre e venti" (It`s 3:20.)

If it`s exactly an hour, we can add "in punto." For instance:
"Sono le cinque in punto" (It is 5 o`clock.)

If we don`t know exactly what time it is, we can add "Circa" (approximately).
For example:
"Sono le sette e cinquanta, circa" (It is about 7:50.)
If it`s quarter past (fifteen minutes) and half past (thirty minutes) we need to add "Un quarto" (a quarter past) and "E mezza" (half past.)
"Sono le sei e un quarto" (It is six fifteen.)
"Sono le sette e mezza" (It is seven thirty.)

If you want to indicate minutes before the next hour, you can use the word "meno" (minus). If it`s 4:45, we can say:
"Sono le cinque meno un quarto" (It is five minus a quarter.)

To clarify between morning and afternoon hours, you can say "del mattino" (morning), "del pomeriggio" (afternoon) or "di sera" (evening).
"Sono le nove di mattina" (It`s 9 AM.)
"Sono le quattro e un quarto del pomeriggio" (It`s 4:15 PM.)
"Sono le undici e trenta di sera" (It`s 11:30 PM.)

And if you want to ask "What time is it", you can use the following expressions:
Che ore è? / Che ora sono? (What time is it?)
Sai che ore sono? (Do you know what time it is?)

Telling time is a practical skill. Practice on a regular basis to learn how to tell the time in Italian like a pro! Good luck!