Telling Time in French : Quelle heure est-il ?

telling time in french

When traveling, meeting up with friends, making appointments, or getting to work or school on time, knowing how to tell the time in French is a necessity.

You’ll never have an excuse for being late again once you learn these formulas in French!

French Vocabulary for Telling Time

This might sound confusing, but in French we do not use the verb le temps as in English, rather an hour (l’heure).

“What time is it?” in French is →Quelle l’heure est-il ?.

le temps → time

l’heure → hour

First, you should be familiar with a few key French vocabulary words related to time. These terms are fundamental to understanding this lesson.

time →l’heure



and a quarter →et quart

quarter to→moins le quart

and a half→et demie

in the morning→du matin

in the afternoon→de l’après-midi

in the evening→ du soir

Common Questions in French: What Time Is It ?

What time is it?

Quelle heure est-il ?

Do you have the time, please?

Est-ce que vous avez l’heure, s’il vous plaît ?

What time is the concert?

À quelle heure est le concert ?

The concert is at eight o’clock in the evening.

Le concert est à huit heures du soir.

Auriez-vous l’heure, s’il vous plaît ?

would you tell me the time, please?

Tu peux me donner l’heure ?

Can you give me the time (street French)

C’est à quelle heure ?

At what time is it?

Il est neuf heures pile, neuf heures précises

It’s nine sharp.

24 hours System in French

telling time in french quelle heure est il

The terms “A.M.” and “P.M.” do not exist in French. France has the 24 hours norm. Rather than a.m.,  you can use du matin, de l’après-midi, du soir.
until 12h in the noon – du matin
from about 12 noon till 6 p.m – de l’après-midi
from about 6 p.m. until midnight – du soir
In other words, the standard expression for 3 pm is 15h00, but you can also use trois heures de l’après-midi (three hours afternoon).

9h – neuf heures du matin

13 – treize heures de l’après-midi

21h- neuf heures du soir

Let’s move on to how to tell someone what time it is. The formula is very simple and doesn’t vary too much:

Il est ___ heure(s)___.

Input the hour(s) before heure(s) and the minutes after heure(s). You must not forget to include the heure(s) when citing the time in French.

Let’s see how to express other times of the day.

  • To express precise hours.

1h00 – Il est une heure

2h00 –  Il est deux heures

  • To say 1 to 30 minutes past the hour, simply say the number of minutes after the hour, like this:

3h10 – Il est trois heures dix.

8h25 – Il est huit heures vingt-cinq.

  • For 30 minutes past the hour, say et demie(and a half).

3h30h – Il est trois heures et demie. or Il est trois heures trente.

  • For 15 minutes past the hour say, et quart (and a quarter).

4h15 – Il est quatre heures et quart. or Il est quatre heures quinze.

  • For 31 to 59 minutes past the hour, say the next hour moins(minus) the number of minutes, like this:

5h10 – Il est cinq heures dix.

6h50 – Il est sept heures moins dix. or Il est six heures cinquante.

  • For a quarter until the hour, say moins le quart (minus the quarter).

Il est trois heures moins le quart. (It is a quarter until 3; meaning 2:45.)

Note that we always say une heure, and not un heure. 

To practice telling time through a video, see what Alexa prepared for you.

To be able to tell the time in French, renew French numbers.

Handy Expressions When Telling Time in French

A few expressions are handy when telling time in French.

  • pile (on the dot). For example:

 Il mange à midi pile.

 (He eats at noon on the dot.)

  • à (at). For example:

 Viens à trois heures.

Come at 3.

  • vers (around). For example:

 Je passerai vers 9 heures.

I will stop by around 9.

Practice Telling Time in French

Click here to Practice Telling Time in french. 

If you like intense exercise, try out this exercise and get a clock counting the time you need.

Don’t be late for your rendez-vous

Learning how to tell the time in French allows you to arrange meetings, attend group gatherings, and connect with more people speaking French.

If you want to express time in French easily, keep in mind that knowing numbers is essential. Also, be aware that telling time in English and other languages may be different.

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