Leçon 5 – Telling Time
Now that we’ve learned our numbers, it’s time we start learning how to tell time, French style!
Unlike in the United States, the French use a 24-hour clock, as well as a 12-hour clock; but for the sake of teaching something familiar, I will teach the 12-hour. 🙂
The French word for “time” when talking about telling time is l’heure. Although o’clock may be left out in English, the expression heure(s) must always be used in French when giving the time, with the exception of minuit (midnight), and midi (noon).
To distinguish between A.M. and P.M., the French use the following expressions:
- du matin – in the morning – il est dix heures du matin – it is 10A.M.
- de l’après midi – in the afternoon – il est deux heures de l’après midi – it is 2P.M.
- du soir – in the evening – il est huit heures du soir – it is 8P.M.
NOTE: In telling time, the number and the word heure(s) are linked together. And remember, the h in heure(s) is always silent, and the s is never pronounced. (The letters in the following words are crossed out for pronunciation sake.)
e heure (oon-err)
heure s (dooz-err – the X in deux is pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
heure s (tr-wah-z – err)
e heure s (cat-err)
nq heure s (sah-nk-err – the Q in cinq is prounounced like a K in front of this silent H, and the in is a nasal vowel)
heure s (seez-err – the X in six is pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
pt heure s (set-err)
huit heure s (weet-err)
heure s (nuv-err)
heure s (deez-err – the X in dix is pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
nze heure s (oh-zuh – err – the on is a nasal vowel… which I should probably go over soon…)
In French, written time is written out as the hour and minute separated with an h, where as in English, the hour and minute are separated with a colon :
Quelle heure est-il? (Kel err eh-teel) What time is it?
Il est… (Always reply to the above question with Il est before stating the time.)
0h00 – 12:00 – minuit (midnight)
1h00 – 01:00 – une heure
2h00 – 02:00 – deux heures
3h00 – 03:00 – trois heures
4h00 – 04:00 – quatre heures
5h00 – 05:00 – cinq heures
6h00 – 06:00 – six heures
7h00 – 07:00 – sept heures
8h00 – 08:00 – huit heures
9h00 – 09:00 – neuf heures
10h00 – 10:00 – dix heures
11h00 – 11:00 – onze heures
12h00 – 12:00 – midi (noon)
How to indicate the minutes:
10h10 – dix heures dix (deez-err dee)
6h25 – six heures vingt-cinq (seez-err vahn-sah-nk)
2h52 – deux heures cinqante-deux (sah-nk-ahnt dew)
How to indicate the half hour and the quarter hours:
1h15 – il est une heure et quart
2h30 – il est deux heures et demie
3h45 – il est trois heures moins le quart
Number pronunciations 1 through 19 can be heard here.
Thanks to About French for the .wav files!