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What Time Is It? – Telling Time in Dutch Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Telling the time in Dutch can be a little complicated until you get the hang of it. The real test comes after you have understood how it works and then need to explain that knowledge to someone else.

Can you explain to someone how to tell the time in Dutch? If not, you might need a refresher course. If you are new to the Dutch language, then you probably need a beginner’s post. Either way, this post on telling time should help.

The Tip That Makes Everything Easier

In English, when you tell the time, the minutes are expressed in relation to the hour. However, In Dutch the half hour and the hour are just as important as each other. Therefore, in Dutch the minutes are expressed in relation to both the hour and the half hour.

Hoe laat is het? (What time is it?)

Het is vier uur. (It is four o’clock.)

Het is half vier. (It is 3:30.)

Tips:

  • Be careful if you are used to saying “half past” or “half four/five/etc.” Usually when saying this you mean 30 minutes after the hour but “half vier/vijf/etc.” in Dutch, means 30 minutes before the hour.
  • The word uur is dropped if you are not saying a round hour.
  • Om = at: Hoe laat vertrek jij? (At what time do you leave?) Om zes uur. (At six o’clock.)

Dividing the Clock

The clock is divided into two horizontal halves (draw a horizontal line through the nine and three of the clock face).

Kwart

kwart over = 15 minutes after the hour = het is kwart over twee = It is 2:15

kwart voor = 15 minutes before the hour = het is kwart voor zeven = it is 6:45

Half

over half –> het is vijf over half zes = it is 5:35 –> this is tricky, remember half zes means 5:30 and vijf over means 5 minutes after 5:30 (half hours are as important as hours – see above)

het is tien over half tien = it is 9:40 –> half tien means 9:30 and tien over means 10 minutes after 9:30

voor half –> het is vijf voor half zeven = it is 6:25 –> half zeven means 6:30 and vijf voor means 5 minutes before 6:30

N.B. If you are looking for a refresher on numbers, you might want to take a look at this post about counting in Dutch.

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Comments:

  1. Anna:

    Thanks! it’s very useful information. I’m wondering how to say a.m. and p.m. in Dutch.

    • heather:

      @Anna Hi Anna, if you are typing it the 24-hour clock is used (i.e. 5pm –> 17:00). If you are saying it then you use ‘s ochtends (for morning), ‘s middags (afternoon) or ‘s avonds (evening) –> e.g. 12 uur ‘s middags

  2. Renee:

    Heather,

    Dank u. Dit is erg handig. We went over this in class, but the way you explain it (the half is as important as the hour) suddenly made sense.

  3. nino:

    thanks

  4. Fernanda:

    Great explanation, thanks!

  5. Lalam:

    Hi guys! how can we say 9h16 or 9h14