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How to express the time

This video focuses on time expressions.
Li Yameng: Lidya, Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?
Li Hui: Xiànzài 12 diǎn.
Li Yameng: It’s time for lunch. Nǐ xiǎng chī shén me?
Li Hui: Wǒ xiǎng chī huǒguō.
Li Yameng: Huǒguō? You may get what we were talking about just now. Right, time.
Li Hui: That’s what we are going to learn.
Li Yameng: “Xiànzài jǐdiǎn” means, “what time is it now”. It’s the most common way for asking the time. Do you still remember how to ask the date? Here, “jǐ” shares the same meaning as which, for asking the time in Chinese. “Xiànzài” means “now”. Xiànzài jǐdiǎn? Xiànzài 8 diǎn 10 fēn.
There are several measure words related to time. “Diǎn” is used for hours. “fēn” for minutes. So “8 diǎn 10 fēn” means 10 after 8.
Li Hui: Amy, do you remember when Jay Chou’s concert is?
Li Yameng: 6 yuè 15 hào. Oh, jīn tiān. What time is the concert?
Li Hui: 7 diǎn 1 kè.
Li Yameng: Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?
Li Hui: Xiànzài 5 diǎn bàn.
Li Yameng: Shall we leave now?
Li Hui: OK, let’s go.
Li Yameng: Go. When it comes to 15 minutes, instead of saying “15 fēn”, there is an alternate way of saying it, which is yíkè. So 15 past 7, we can say “7 diǎn yíkè” or”7 diǎn 15 fēn”.
“Bàn” means “half”. Here it is half an hour, so 30 past 5, we can say “5 diǎn bàn or 5 diǎn 30 fēn”.
Li Hui: Now let’s have some practice. Amy, xiànzài jǐdiǎn?
Li Yameng: Xiànzài zǎoshang 7 diǎn bàn.
Li Hui: Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?
Li Yameng: Xiànzài wǎnshang 7diǎn bàn.
L Yameng: Do you remember the rule that the bigger unit comes before the smaller one in Chinese when we talk about the date. For instance, “6 yuè 15 hào” meaning “15th of June”. This rule applies to time as well. “Wǎnshang 7 diǎn bàn” , which is half past seven in the evening. “Wǎnshang” comes before “7 diǎn bàn”. Let’s take a look at different expressions of different time period of a day. zǎoshang, shàngwǔ, zhōngwǔ, xiàwǔ, wǎnshang
Li Hui: Wow, Jay Chou’s concert is amazing.
Li Yameng: I agree with you. Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?
Li Hui: Xiànzài 10 diǎn . Shall we go to the bar now?
Li Yameng: Hē píjiǔ ma?
Li Hui: Hmm-mm.
Li Yameng: I need to go home and have some rest.
My class starts at 8:00 tomorrow morning.
Li Hui: You live like an old lady. Come on, let’s have fun.
Li Yameng: You know me. I follow the habit of zǎo shuì zǎo qǐ, Early to bed and early to rise. It’s too late now.
Li Hui: I should learn from you.
Li Yameng: Yeah.

The most common way for asking the time “现在几点?(Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?)” is introduced at the beginning of the video and then, simple daily time expressions and the rule of expressing the moment of time are also introduced.


“现在几点?(Xiànzài jǐdiǎn?)” is used for asking the moment in time. In order to answer this question, we use “点(diǎn)” and “分(fēn)” as measurements. “点(diǎn)” is used for hours,”分(fēn)” for minutes.

  • 7点(diǎn)15分(fēn) indicates fifteen minutes past seven.
  • 5点(diǎn)30分(fēn) indicates thirty minutes past five.
There are alternative ways of saying the above time:
  • 7:15 七点十五分(qīdiǎn shíwǔfēn) 七点一刻(qīdiǎn yíkè)
  • 5:30 五点三十分(wǔdiǎn sānshífēn) 五点半(wǔdiǎn bàn)
    “刻(kè)” means “quarter of an hour” and “半(bàn)” means “half or semi-“.
The rule of time expressions is the same as the rule of saying the date. The larger unit is placed before the smaller one, so the expression of a day comes before the expression of o’clock. Here are the expressions of a day.
  • 早上(zǎoshang) early morning
  • 上午(shàngwǔ) morning
  • 中午(zhōngwǔ) noon
  • 下午(xiàwǔ) afternoon
  • 晚上(wǎnshang) evening, night

After learning the time expressions, you can apply them in your daily life.

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