Use this tool to add tone marks to pinyin or to convert tone number (e.g. hao3) to tone marks.

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Calendars, Months of the Year & Telling the Time in Chinese

It will only take 10 minutes to read this post!

Knowing how to tell the time is pretty essential if you want to make plans with your Chinese friends or want to catch a flight on time. We’ve given you a super simple guide for telling the time in Chinese, and how to talk about the days of the week, month of the year and even today’s date.

You can get Calendars, Months of the Year & Telling the Time in Chinese PDF to learn all about telling the time in Chinese!

Hours

Time in Chinese is measured in hours 小时 (xiǎo shí), minutes  (fēn) and seconds  (miǎo).

When referring to an amount of hours we use the measure word  (gè):

#个 (gè) + 小时 (xiǎo shí)

一个小时 (xiǎo shí) – 1 hour

两个小时 (liǎng xiǎo shí) – 2 hours

When counting in Chinese, the number 2 is not  (èr), but  (liǎng).

Half an hour is  (bàn), which comes in place of the number:

半个小时 (bàn ge xiǎo shí) – half an hour

To combine hours and half hours place the number of hours first, then the half hour:

#个 (gè) + 半 (bàn) + 小时 (xiǎo shí)

三个半小时 (sān bàn xiǎo shí) – 3 and a half hours

Minutes and Seconds

When telling the time, a phrase indicating how many minutes or seconds can end in the noun  (zhōng), meaning clock.

四分钟 (fēn zhōng) – four minutes

五秒钟 (miǎo zhōng) – 5 seconds

Halves can also be added here after 分 (fēn):

一分半 (fēn bàn) – one and a half minutes

三秒半 (sān miǎo bàn) – three and a half seconds

Telling the Time

1Expressing time on the hour uses the character  (diǎn) meaning ‘dot’. Often, the word for clock, 钟 (zhōng), can be omitted.

Hour + 点 (diǎn) (钟) (zhōng) 

六点钟 (liù diǎn zhōng)  – six o’clock

八点钟 (diǎn zhōng) – eight o’clock

telling-the-time-in-chinese-like-a-digital-clockIt is common to speak the time, as you read it on a digital clock:

九点二十分(钟) (jiǔ diǎn èr shí fēn (zhōng)) – 9:25

The character  (zhōng), is implied within the sentence and does not need to be used.

If the minutes number is lower than 10, then you may use the word for zero,  (líng):

五点零七分 (diǎn líng fēn) – 5:07

To express ‘a quarter past’, use 一刻 ( kè), and for ‘three quarters past’, use 三刻 (sān kè).

四点一刻 (diǎn  kè) – 4:15

八点三刻 (diǎn  kè) – 8:45

Specific Time

To refer to a specific time past the hour, the character  (guò) is used, meaning ‘spent’:

Hour + 点 (diǎn) + 过 (guò) + minutes + 分 (fēn)

十点过十分(钟) (shí diǎn guò shí fēn (zhōng)) – 10:10

八点过四十分 (diǎn guò  shí fēn) – 8:40

 (chà) can be used to refer to minutes before the hour:

Hour + 点 (diǎn) + 差 (chà) + minutes + 分 (fēn)

六点差二十分 (liù diǎn chà èr shí fēn) – 5:40

十一点差五分 (shí diǎn chà fēn) – 10:55

AM/PM

Time of day is indicated with various time phrases in the place of AM and PM. They are always used before the actual time is given.

早上 (zǎo shang) – morning

上午 (shàng wǔ) – before noon

中午 (zhōng wǔ) – midday

下午 (xià wǔ) – afternoon

晚上 (wǎn shang) – evening

半夜 (bàn yè) – midnight/ early hours of the morning

晚上六点半 (wǎn shang liù diǎn bàn) –  six thirty in the evening

早上八点钟 (zǎo shang diǎn zhōng) – eight in the morning

Clock time phrases always come after the subject at the beginning of the predicate.

他每天晚上七点去外面跑步。(měi tiān wǎn shang diǎn wài mian pǎo bù)

Every evening at 7pm he goes out for a run.

Asking the Time

现在几点钟?(xiàn zài  diǎn zhōng) – What time is it?

The Chinese Calendar

There are two different calendars in use in China, the Western calendar, and the Agricultural calendar, which marks traditional Chinese festivals revolving around the moon and the solstices.

Years in Chinese are expressed with the character  (nián). Just add 年 (nián) after the year:

三年 (sān nián) 3 years

To ask how many years, use the phrase 几年? ( nián) or 多少年 (duō shao nián?

Referring to Years

今年 (jīn nián) – this year

明年 (míng nián) – next year

后年 (hòu nián) – two years from now

大后年 ( hòu nián) – three years from now

去年 ( nián) – last year

前年 (qián nián) – the year before last

大前年 ( qián nián) – three years ago

Saying the Year

A year is read in single numbers followed by 年 (nián):

一九八七年 (jiǔ nián) – 1987

Talking about years

哪年?(nián) – Which year?

你是哪年毕业的?(shì nián  yè de?) – Which year did you graduate?

Months

 (yuè) is the character that refers to months in Chinese, and is also used when referring to a specific month’s name. The measure word for a month is 个 (gè) . To count months just add the classifier after the number, followed by 月 (yuè).

两个月 (liǎng yuè) – two months

五个月 (yuè) – five months

To ask ‘How many months?’ use the phrase:

几个月?( ge yuè)

or

多少个月(duō shao gè yuè)

你已经学了多少月了? ( jīng xué le duō shao yuè le?) – How many months have you studied for?

这个月 (zhè  yuè) – this month

下个月 (xià  yuè) – next month

上个月 (shàng  yuè) – last month

Names of the Months

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一月 ( yuè) – January

二月 (èr yuè) –  February

三月 (sān yuè) –  March

四月 ( yuè) – April

五月 ( yuè) – May

六月 (liù yuè) – June

七月 ( yuè) – July

八月 ( yuè) – August

九月 (jiǔ yuè) – September

十月 (shí yuè) – October

十一月 (shí  yuè) – November

十二月 (shí èr yuè) – December

几月?(yuè) – Which month?

你是几月生的? (shì yuè shēng de) – In which month were you born?

Dates on the calendar

The date is referred to with the  (hào) character. To talk about a specific day of the month, add 号 (hào) after the number:

二十七号 (èr shí  hào) – 27th (of the month)

二十二号 (èr shí èr hào) – 22nd (of the month)

To ask for the date use the following sentences:

几号(hào) What is the date?

Or

多少号?(duō shao hào) What is the date?

Or

今天几号?(jīn tiān hào) What is today’s date?

Weeks

A week is usually expressed with the bigram 星期 (xīng qī) or the character  (zhōu).

Weeks are counted using the measure word 个 (gè):

一个星期 (xīng qī) – one week

几个星期?( ge xīng qī) – how many weeks?

这个星期 (zhè gexīng qī) – this week

下个星期 (xià  xīng qī) – next week

上个星期 (shàng  xīng qī) – last week

Weekends are referred to with the bigram 周末 (zhōu mò).

这个周末 (zhè ge zhōu mò) – this weekend

下个周末 (xià  zhōu mò) – next weekend

上个周末 (shàng zhōu mò) – last weekend

Days

There is no measure word for days, and the number of days is followed by  (tiān), the character for day.

六天 (liù tiān) – 6 days

八天 ( tiān) – 8 days

几天? ( tiān) – how many days?

Or

多少天?(duō shao tiān) – how many days?

Days of the Week

星期一 (xīng  yī) / 周一 (zhōu yī) – Monday

星期二 (xīng  èr) / 周二 (zhōu èr) – Tuesday

星期三 (xīng  sān) / 周三 (zhōu sān) – Wednesday

星期四 (xīng  sì) / 周四 (zhōu sì) – Thursday

星期五 (xīng  wǔ) / 周五 (zhōu wǔ) – Friday

星期六 (xīng  liù) / 周六 (zhōu liù) – Saturday

星期天 (xīng  tiān) / 周日 (zhōu rì) – Sunday

星期几(xīng  jǐ) – which day of the week?

Or

周几?(zhōu jǐ) which day of the week?

今天 (jīn tiān) – today

昨天 (zuó tiān) – yesterday

明天 (míng tiān) – tomorrow

后天 (hòu tiān) – the day after tomorrow

大后天 ( hòu tiān) – three days from now

前天 (qián tiān) – the day before yesterday

大前天 ( qián tiān) – three days ago

Dates

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When speaking or writing the date in Chinese, we begin with the largest unit first down to the smallest unit.

Year + month + date

一九九五年八月十六号 (jiǔ nián yuè shí liù hào) 16th August 2015

Exercises

Share you answers with us below and check them on our Q&As That Will Help You Make Chinese Friends.

Translate the following sentences into Chinese:

1a. How long will this movie be?
1b. One hour and forty minute.

2. He planned to go swimming in the morning.

3. Translate the date and time from the image below into Chinese:

53263592-2f9f-4350-a5cf-379db86e3ce9_2

Post your answers below, and we’ll check them for you! We’ll post the answers below soon.
 
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