Telling the Time in German Posted by Larissa on Jul 27, 2015 in Language
If is often said that German people are very pünktlich (on time), I’ve written a list of basic vocabulary to help you tell the time, and to ask what the time is in German so that you’ll never be spät (late)!
First of all here are a few numbers in German:
Here are the basics words and sentences that you will need:
die Zeit the time
die Uhr a watch/clock
Viertel nach quarter past
Viertel vor quarter to
Wie viel Uhr ist es? What time is it?
Wie spät ist es? How late is it?
Es ist zwölf Uhr zwanzig It is twelve twenty
Es ist viertel vor drei It is quarter to three
Es ist zehn nach neun It is ten past nine
And now for the tricky part:
If someone tells you to meet them at halb 12 you would meet them at half 12/12:30 right? Wrong. You would actually be meeting them at 11:30! In German if you say halb … it just means “half” and not “half past”. For example:
Halb eins = 12:30
Halb drei = 2:30
Halb elf = 10:30
So there are the basics of telling the time, hopefully you will always be pünktlich when meeting someone! I got the idea for this post from a friend who has a very interesting clock in their flat – eine bayerische Uhr. What makes this Bavarian clock so special is that it ticks rückwärts (backwards) and you have to read it spiegelverkehrt (mirror image).
The reason for this is because Willy Brandt (Politician and Leader of the Social democratic Party) said “in Bayern ticken die Uhren anders” (in Bavaria the clocks tick differently). Someone interpreted this and created the Bavarian clock. If you are ever in Munich take a look at Isartor’s clock – and you will notice that the clock is indeed a Bavarian clock that ticks backwards!
Here is a photo of einer Bayerischen Uhr, leave a comment if you can figure out what the time is!
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