Asking and telling time in English can be very difficult because there are so many rules.

If you have the same difficulty, then don’t be worried. In the next few minutes, we will go through everything that we need to know about how to tell time in English.

Now let’s get started.

1. How to Ask about Time in English

  • Ways to ask about time:

The most common and also the easiest way to ask about time is:

‘What time is it?’

However, it needs to be a little bit more polite when you ask a person, maybe a stranger. In order to do that, you can say:

‘Excuse me, could you tell me what time it is, please?’

‘Excuse me, could you tell me the time, please?’

  • Ways to ask if somebody has time or not

When somebody ‘has the time’, it means that they have some free time to do what you are asking them to do. You can say:

‘Do you have the time?’

‘Have you got the time?’

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2. How to answer about time in English

Telling time is a little bit more difficult. Firstly, we will see some new words about a clock  so you can be more familiar with the words we will use:

  • When the minute hand reaches number 12, you can say:

‘It’s + hour hand + o’clock’


‘It’s + hour hand + a.m [morning]/p.m [night]’


Image result for a clock


‘It’s 2 o’clock’ or  ‘It’s 2 a.m/p.m’



  • When the minute hand reaches other numbers, there will be two ways for you to tell time:

a.  It’s + hour hand + minutes + [a.m/p.m]

b.  Use ‘past’ and ‘ to’ to tell time

– For minute 1-30, you can use the word ‘past’ to tell time

It’s + the number of minutes+ past + hour 

– For minute 31 – 50, you can use the word ‘to’ to tell time.

‘It’s + the number of minutes until it reaches number 12 + to + hour


Related image


It’s two fifty [a.m/p.m]

It’s ten to three.



Image result for 4 15 clock

It’s four fifteen

It’s fifteen past four



So you have found out ways to ask and answer about time. If you want to check them again and see how to tell time naturally, please click the image below to watch a video about time

Telling Time in English video
Everytime you see the clock, ask yourself how to tell it in English

3. Exercise

Comment the time when you read this sentence below. Try to find as many ways as possible