You've already learned Telling time in French - simple. In this lesson we'll see how to use the 24-hour clock and to differentiate between AM and PM in French.
In France you will often hear the twenty-four hour clock used, as such:
Il est vingt heures.It's eight PM.
The fact is that, when there's no risk of confusion between AM and PM, French people use both 12-hour and 24-hour clocks :
On se rejoint à cinq heures.Let's meet at five.
On se rejoint à dix-sept heures.Let's meet at five.
- You know you're probably not meeting at 5AM! -
However, when there is risk of confusion between AM and PM, you will either use the 24-hour clock, OR add precisions like du matin (in the morning), de l'après-midi (in the afternoon) and even du soir (in the evening, starting around 6PM), after the 12-hour clock time.
Il est six heures du soir.It is six PM.
Il est dix-huit heures.It is six PM.
Il est six heures du matin.It is six AM.
Il est trois heures et demie de l'après-midi.It is three-thirty PM.
Il est trois heures et demie du matin.It is half past three in the morning.
Il est quatre heures et quart de l'après-midi.It is quarter past four PM.
Il est quatre heures et quart du matin.It is quarter past four in the morning.
With the "above 24-hour o'clock" (13h, 14h, ...), you don't use et quart, et demie, moins le quart but instead you use quinze, trente, quarante-cinq, probably for pronunciation (and elegance) reasons.
Il est seize heures quinze.It is quarter past four PM.
Il est quinze heures trente.It is three-thirty PM.
Il est dix-neuf heures quarante-cinq.It's quarter to eight PM.
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