Telling time in Dutch can be very confusing. I’ll try to keep this straightforward and hope that it helps. At some point a light bulb went off for me and I magically “got it” but it took a bit of practice to get there.
Hoe laat is het?
-What time is it?
Weet je hoe laat het is?
-Do you know what time it is?
Het is een uur.
-It is one o’clock.
Hoe laat ga je naar de bioscoop?
-What time are you going to the movie theater?
Ik ga om 8 uur naar de bioscoop.
-I’m going to the movies at 8 o’clock.
Useful words for time:
om = at
Ga jij om 11 uur naar de huisarts?
-Are you going at 11 o’clock to the doctor?
van = from
tot = until/to
Van hoe laat tot hoe laat moet jij werken?
-From what time until what time do you have to work?
Ik moet van 8 tot 5 werken.
-I have to work from 8 until 5.
What gets tricky is when we start to speak about times that aren’t exactly on the hour. The time is rarely given in exact numbers, like “It is 5:47″ but rather it is given as a relationship of times to one another. So it is either so many minutes past a certain time, or so many minutes until a certain time. What can be most confusing is that once you get past a quarter past an hour, the time will refer to the coming hour, not the hour you are currently in. So 8:20 is given as “Ten minutes until half 9.” Below you will find a list to keep all of this in order.
1:05 = 5 over 1
2:10 = 10 over 2
3:15 = kwart over 3
4:20 = 10 voor half 5
5:25 = 5 voor half 6
6:30 = half 7
7:35 = 5 over half 8
8:40 = 10 over half 9
9:45 = kwart voor 10
10:50 = 10 voor 11
11:55 = 5 voor 12
Basically, the clock is split into 4 pieces.
Anything before 15 past the hour is: X minutes OVER the current hour.
ON the first 15 minutes is a quarter OVER the current hour.
Between the first 15 and 30 minutes of an hour, the time is X minutes FOR half the NEXT hour.
On the half hour is half the NEXT hour.
Between 30 minutes and 45 minutes it is X minutes OVER half the next hour.
Exactly 45 minutes after the current hour is 15 minutes FOR the next hour.
Between 45 minutes and the next hour it is X minutes FOR the next hour.
I don’t know if that helps at all, and it can take awhile to get used to this system. It is always looking ahead, and often the numbers you hear are not the numbers for the current hour. So “half seven” is not 7:30, it is 6:30. This system used to drive me absolutely crazy, but you can get the hang of it, and once you do you will never be late for a meeting again.