French Time


This lesson is all about learning French timeTelling the time in French is relatively simple as long as the appropriate rules are taken in account. To begin, there is the fact that “time” is not referred to as “les temps”, as it is often mistakenly believed, but as “l’heure”; the latter word “heure”, is indeed used every time one is talking about the topic, whether in questions or answers. In fact, the diminutive of “heure” (“h”) is used instead of the customary colon applied in English and many other languages to tell separate hours from minutes (e.g.: “10h00” instead of “10:00”). All the same, time in French is usually regarded on a 24 hour basis, which means that common words to tell apart the period of the day (i.e. “a.m.” and “p.m.”) are not often employed in this language. As an alternative, nevertheless, it is possible to refer to the time (based upon 2 blocks of 12 hours each) followed by the appropriate indication of the period in question, be it morning (“du matin”), afternoon (“de l’après-midi”), or evening (“du soir”); note that these periods go until noon, until 6 p.m., and until midnight, respectively.

The following is a list of useful expressions to tell the time in French:




What time is it?

Quelle heure est-il?

It is a quarter to …

Il estheure(s) moins le quart.

It is a quarter past …

Il estheure(s) et quart.

It is five minutes to …

Il estheure(s) moins cinq.

It is five minutes past …

Il estheure(s) cinq.

It is half past…

Il estheure(s) et demie.

It is … in the morning.

Il estheures du matin.

It is … in the afternoon.

Il estheures de l’après-midi.

It is … in the night.

Il estheures du soir.

At what time?

À quelle heure ?

At … o’clock.


In … hour(s).


From what time?

À partir de quelle heure ?

Till what time?

Jusqu'à quelle heure ?

How long will it take?

Combien de temps ça prend ?

It is early.

Il est tôt.

It is noon.

Il est midi.

It is midnight.

Il est minuit.

It is late.

Il est tard.

It’s on time.

C'est à l'heure.

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