Chinese Language Blog

A Guide to Telling Time in Chinese Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in Vocabulary

An important skill to master when learning a language is how to tell the time. In addition, you’ll also want to learn how to talk about days, weeks, months, and years. We’ve had several great posts on how to do this in Chinese over the years. If you’re new here, chances are you’ve missed them. Here’s a guide to telling time in Chinese to help you get started.

Telling Time in Chinese

A Guide to Telling Time in Chinese


In this post, you’ll learn all the basic Chinese vocabulary you’ll need for telling the time. We also go over how to ask for and give the time of day, the different parts of the day, and asking/answering about daily activities. There’s an activity at the end for you to give it a try and practice as well. While you’re at it, go ahead and follow along with this short video for some extra practice.

Advanced Time Telling

Once you’ve gotten the basics down, it’s time to challenge yourself a bit. This post begins with the answers to the practice activity from the first one. It then goes on to teach how to use “from… to” with a variety of examples. Finally, you’ll learn about two useful Chinese characters that can be used to mean “early” and “late” and how to put them to use. See if you can translate the examples at the end to practice what you learn in the post.

Days, Weeks, Months and Years

After learning how to tell the time, you can move on to learning how to talk about days, weeks, months, and years in Chinese. This post will give you tons of vocabulary, such as how to say “the day before yesterday” or “2 months from now.” You’ll also learn all the days of the week and months of the year. Spoiler alert – they’re super easy in Chinese!

Your Weekly Schedule

This post takes a lot of what we’ve learned up to now and challenges you to make a weekly schedule. See if you can use the days of the week and parts of the day plus the daily activities you’ve learned to fill out a chart and make sentences about your week.

A Day in the (Chinese) Life

With a group of my students.

This post is a short reading in Chinese that goes over my typical day as an English teacher in Beijing. I break it down into shorter sections with translations to help you understand it. You can also watch this short video, where my colleague provided his great native-speaker voice to narrate the day.


All of those posts and videos should keep you busy for a while. They’ll give you a good foundation for how to tell the time in Chinese. If you have any other questions or any other topics related to time-telling that you’d like to see covered here, feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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