Arabic Language Blog

Telling the time in Libyan Colloquial Arabic Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Vocabulary

Clock tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia


A few weeks ago, we looked at how we ask for the time and also learnt some time-related vocabulary, using a kids song. This week, we’re going to learn how to tell the time in Libyan colloquial Arabic. Although I’m focusing on the Libyan dialect here, it’s worth mentioning that this is not at all very different from the other dialects and it’s fairly intelligible to most Arabic speakers, with small differences in the pronunciation.


When someone asks you:

Q: كم الساعه؟    Kam as-saaʕa?

(What’s the time?)


*In Libyan Arabic, ‘kam’ is replaced by  قداّش ‘giddaash’

Q: قدّاش الساعه؟   Giddaash is-saaʕa?

(How much is the hour?) = (What’s the time?)


Your answer should start with:

A:  الساعه      As-saaʕa  is

(The time is)


Notice here that in Arabic, unlike in English, you need to say الساعه  hour is rather than the time is.


*In colloquial Arabic in general, the word  Is-saa a  is usually dropped as its implied anyway.

Let’s learn how to tell the time now>>



الساعه واحد مزبوطه     Is-saaʕa  waahid  mazbuta

(It’s one o’clock).


This literally means the time is ‘exactly 1’. In standard Arabic, however, it’s a bit more complicated as you need to say ‘it’s the first hour’ (second, third, etc) which is:


الساعه الواحده      As-saaʕa  al-wahidah

(It’s the first hour)


1: 05

الساعه واحد و خمسه      Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa  khamsa

(It’s one and five) = (It’s five past one).


1: 10

الساعه واحد و عشره      Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa   ashra

(It’s one and ten) = (It’s ten past one).


1: 15

الساعه واحد و ربع         Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa   ruba

(It’s one and a quarter) = (It’s quarter past one).


*Alternatively, you can use numbers (and this is also applicable to everything below):


الساعه واحد وخمسطاشن دقيقه    Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa  kham-staashen  dgeegah


1: 20

الساعه واحد وتلت      Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa   tilt

(It’s one and a third) = (It’s twenty past one).


1: 25

الساعه واحد و نص إلا خمسه       Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa   nuss ‘illa khamsa

(It’s one and a half but five) = (It’s 25 past one).


1: 30

الساعه واحد و نص      Is-saaʕa  waahid  wa   nuss

(It’s one and a half) = (It’s half past one).


1: 35

الساعه واحد و نص و خمسه     Is-saa a  waahid  wa   nuss wa khamsa

(It’s one and a half and a five) = (It’s 35 past one).


1: 40

الساعه اتنين إلا تلت     Is-saaʕa  itneen  ‘illa  tilt

(It’s two but a third) = (It’s 20 to two).


1: 45

الساعه اتنين إلا ربع     Is-saaʕa  itneen  ‘illa  ruba

(It’s two to quarter) = (It’s quarter to two).


1: 50

الساعه اتنين إلا عشره        Is-saa a  itneen  ‘illa  ashra

(It’s two but ten) = (It’s 10 to two).


1: 55

الساعه اتنين إلا خمسه        Is-saaʕa  itneen  ‘illa  khamsa

(It’s two but five) = (It’s 5 to two).



Keep learning Arabic with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Hanan Ben Nafa

Hi, this is Hanan :) I'm an Arabic linguist. I completed my PhD in Linguistics - 2018. My PhD thesis was entitled Code-switching as an evaluative strategy: identity construction among Arabic-English bilinguals. I'm also a qualified public service translator & interpreter.