Learn Japanese — Telling Time in Japanese Lesson for Beginners!

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Here, you’ll learn ALL about telling time in Japanese. This lesson contains of 6 parts. By the time you’re done, you’ll be telling time like a pro. Be sure to take this lesson and…

  • Spend 5 minutes reading this
  • Take out a pen & paper to practice
  • Print it out as physical review material
  • REVIEW: Trust me, you’ll master it easily with enough reviewing.

 And if you REALLY want to learn Japanese with complete learning program – 2,000+ audio/video courses, lessons by Japanese teachers, apps, study tools – Sign up at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning! I recommend ’em as a teacher & learner.

telling time in japanese

Part 1. Let’s start off with the question – What Time Is It in Japanese?

  • What time is it?
    • Nanji desu ka?
    • 何時ですか。
  • What time is it now?
    • Ima wa nanji desu ka?
    • 今は何時ですか。

How do you answer this question? Well, if you know numbers (– if you don’t, scroll down to part 5 –), answering it is easy.

Part 2. Here’s an easy way of telling time in Japanese. Use this formula.

  • (number) + ji + desu.
    • (number) 時です
    • Just add the number in Japanese and say “ji desu” after it.
  • Or, if you want to say… XX:30, add han!
    • (number) + ji +han + desu.
    • (number)です

So, for example:

  • It’s 3 o’clock.
    • sanji desu.
    • 3時です。
  • It’s 4 o’clock.
    • yoji + desu. (yes, we use YO, not YON, when using 4 alone – remember this rule)
    • 4時です。
  • It’s 7 o’clock
    • Shichiji desu. (yes, not nana, but using 7 alone – remember this rule)
    • 7時です。
  • It’s 8:30.
    • Hachiji han desu.
    • 8時半です。
  • It’s 9 o’clock.
    • Kuji desu (yes, not kyuu, but using 9 alone – remember this rule)
    • 9時です。

telling time in japanese

Yes! Now, you can say it’s 10 o’clock or it’s 3:30! Now, let’s get a little detailed. Let’s talk about AM and PM.

Part 3. AM & PM in Japanese

Japanese don’t often use AM and PM because they use a 24-hour clock system. So, what would be 9PM for you is 21 for them. What’s 11PM for you is 23 for them. BUT, you can still use the 12-hour clock system with the following words:

  • gozen – 午前 – (morning or used as AM)
  • gogo – 午後 – (afternoon or used as PM)

Now, you can take these words and use them for telling time in Japanese. Add them to the front.

  • It’s 3AM
    • Gozen sanji desu
    • 午前3時です
  • It’s 11PM
    • Gogo juuichiji desu
    • 午後11時です

telling time in japanese

Now, what about the minutes in Japanese? Let’s get precise with telling time in Japanese.

Part 4. Precise Time Telling & How to Use Minutes in Japanese

So, let’s say it’s 12:53 or 9:59. Here’s what you need.

  1. the list of numbers below (scroll down)
    1. Or just plain learning how to count in Japanese – see my lesson here
  2. and the following formula – add minute which is usually fun/pun or ppun
    1. (number) + ji + (number) + fun/pun/ppun

For example, let’s try saying:

  • It’s 12:53.
    • Juuniji gojuusanpun
    • 12時53分です。
  • It’s 9:01
    • Kuji ippun desu.
    • 9時1分です。
  • It’s 20:42
    • Nijuuji yonjuunifun desu.

Whoa, what’s going on here? The minute word varies depending on the number. Pun? Fun? Ppun?

  • This might seem like the toughest part of this telling time in Japanese lesson. Hang in there, it gets easy.

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Here’s the deal with minutes: In some, you can obviously see the numbers like 3 is san+pun and 4 is yon+pun, but there are exceptions. Like, one minute is NOT ichipun and 6 minutes is NOT rokufun. See them in red below. Also, pay attention to which are the puns and which are the funs!

  • 1 – ippun
  • 2 – nifun
  • 3 – sanpun
  • 4 – yonpun
  • 5 – gofun
  • 6 – roppun
  • 7 – nanafun
  • 8 – happun
  • 9 – kyuufun
  • 10 – juuppun

Okay, knowing the Japanese minutes from 1 to 10 is enough. You can apply them to 11 to 59 easily.

  • Apply 10’s phrasing to the other 10s:
  • 20, 30, 40, 50 are all -ppun
    • nijuuppun, sanjuuppun, yonjuuppun, gojuuppun
  • Minutes 1 to 9, as you learned above, will affect THE LAST NUMBER in all the bigger numbers like 13, 45, 59.
    • Let’s try 13:
      • You know that 10 is juu
      • You know that 3 minutes is sanpun
        • Juusanpun! That’s it.
    • Let’s try 45:
      • 40 is yonjuu
      • you know that 5 minutes is gofun
        • Yonjuugofun!
    • And 59?
      • 50 is gojuu
      • You know that 9 minutes is kyuufun
        • gojuukyuufun!

Part 5: Numbers You Need to Know for Telling Time in Japanese – Love This Chart.

If you don’t know your Japanese numbers, here’s a chart. Feel free to print this whole thing. Notice I didn’t include Kanji. You also don’t need to remember Hiragana. Why? In Japanese, numbers are written as numbers – 3, 5, 69, 2999 – so you don’t really need to learn kanji.

NumberRomajiHiraganaNumberRomajiHiragana
1ichiいち31sanjuuichiさんじゅういち
2ni32sanjuuniさんじゅうに
3sanさん33sanjuusanさんじゅうさん
4yo(n)よ(ん)34sanjuuyonさんじゅうよん
5go35sanjuugoさんじゅうご
6rokuろく36sanjuurokuさんじゅうろく
7shichi (nana)しち(なな)37sanjuunanaさんじゅうなな
8hachiはち38sanjuuhachiさんじゅうはち
9kyuuきゅう39sanjuukyuuさんじゅうきゅう
10juuじゅう40yonjuuよんじゅう
11juuichiじゅういち41yonjuuichiよんじゅういち
12juuniじゅうに42yonjuuniよんじゅうに
13juusanじゅうさん43yonjuusanよんじゅうさん
14juuyonじゅうよん44yonjuuyonよんじゅうよん
15juugoじゅうご45yonjuugoよんじゅうご
16juurokuじゅうろく46yonjuurokuよんじゅうろく
17juunanaじゅうなな47yonjuunanaよんじゅうなな
18juuhachiじゅうはち48yonjuuhachiよんじゅうはち
19juukyuuじゅうきゅう49yonjuukyuuよんじゅうきゅう
20nijuuにじゅう50gojuuごじゅう
21nijuuichiにじゅういち51gojuuichiごじゅういち
22nijuuniにじゅうに52gojuuniごじゅうに
23nijuusanにじゅうさん53gojuusanごじゅうさん
24nijuuyonにじゅうよん54gojuuyonごじゅうよん
25nijuugoにじゅうご55gojuugoごじゅうご
26nijuurokuにじゅうろく56gojuurokuごじゅうろく
27nijuunanaにじゅうなな57gojuunanaごじゅうなな
28nijuuhachiにじゅうはち58gojuuhachiごじゅうはち
29nijuukyuuにじゅうきゅう59gojuukyuuごじゅうきゅう
30sanjuuさんじゅう

Okay, if you made it here, you’re a persistent hero. Definitely a good sign that you can learn Japanese since you’re keeping at it.

Part 6: Telling Time in Japanese – Time Phrases.. Here are some useful phrases to know for time and asking the time in Japanese.

  • What time does it start?
    • 何時に始まるの?
    • Nanji ni hajimaruno?
  • What time does it close?  (store)
    • 何閉店ですか。
    • Nanji ni heiten desu ka?
  • What time do you wake up?
    • 何時に君は起きるの。
    • Nanji ni kimi wa okiru no?
  • What time is it in Tokyo?
    • 東京は今何時ですか。
    • Toukyou wa ima nanji desu ka?
  • What time can you come?
    • 何時に来れますか。
    • Nanji ni kuremasu ka?
  • What time do you go to bed?
    • 何時に寝るのですか。
    • Nanji ni neru no desu ka?
  • I don’t know what time it is.
    • 私は何時かわかりません。
    • Watashi wa nanji wakarimasen.

That’s it. Now you know all about telling time in Japanese. It’s your turn. Take everything you’ve learned and…

  • Tell me what time is it in Japanese?
  • Leave a comment! Yes!

The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Japanese learners. If you REALLY want to learn Japanese with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning!

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