Telling the time in Russian

In this post we're going to learn a basic topic - asking and telling the time. Imagine, you are alone in the Russian city and you don't have a watch or a mobile phone (I know it's hard to imagine but who knows what can happen) and you need to be in a particular place at a particular time. You'll probably need to ask people around what time is it. But this is not the only case, of course. When talking to a friend you can  also need tot ask or tell the time. Just while walking the street, someone may ask you about time.

Asking the time in Russian: two simple questions

There are two ways of asking time in Russian. The most common is "Сколько времени?". Uneducated people may say "Сколько время?", it is very common in everyday speaking but not grammatically correct because the word время (time) must be used in the genitive case - времени. We literally ask "how much", when asking the time.

The second question is "Который час?", which sounds more formal to me. I rarely hear people saying this. Usually they use the first phrase.

If you want to ask passers-by what time is it, you can use following patterns:

Извините, пожалуйста, вы не подскажете, который час?
Excuse me, please, can you tell me what time is it?

Простите, вы подскажете, сколько сейчас времени?
Excuse me, can you tell me what time is it now?

How to tell the time in Russian 

Well, this will be much harder than asking the time. First of all, you need to be familiar with Russian cardinal and ordinal numerals. If you're not, just follow the link.

So, if it's one, two, three, etc. o'clock (sharp), it's very easy:

- Сколько времени? (What time is it?)

Час. (It's one o'clock)
Два часа. (It's two o'clock)
Три часа. (It's three o'clock)
Четыре часа. (It's four o'clock)
Пять часов. (It's five o'clock)
Шесть часов. (It's six o'clock)
Семь часов. (It's seven o'clock)
Восемь часов. (It's eight o'clock)
Девять часов. (It's nine o'clock)
Десять часов. (It's 10 o'clock)
Одиннадцать часов. (It's 11 o'clock)
Двенадцать часов. (It's 12 o'clock)

We can also tell the time exactly as we see it on the clock. In this case it's also easy if you are familiar with the Russian numbers:

- Сколько времени?- Шесть сорок пять. (6:45) or восемнадцать сорок пять (18:45).

In the first case (шесть сорок пять) we can mean both 6:45 and 18:45. We don't need to clarify this if the part of the day is obvious.

In the following situations the part of the day is essential:

- Когда будет трансляция? (When will it be broadcasted?)
- В 11 вечера. (At 11 pm).
- Когда мне позвонить? (When should I call?)
- В девять утра. (At nine am.)

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