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How to ask and tell time in Russian


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How do you think, is asking time actual today or not? I mean, worth it learning or not? How often do you ask the time or answer people when they ask you? On the one hand learning how to ask time in Russian (or any other language) may seem useless or at least not very important. Because every person today has a cell phone or a tablet with digital clock on it. On the other hand, mobile gadgets can be lost, stolen, or simply a battery can be low.  So having a cell phone is not a warranty at all. You can always wear watch, but what if a person on the street will ask you about the time? You should be ready for it and know what to tell. Do not worry this material is not complicated. We have two basic phrases how to ask time:

Сколько времени?

Skol´ko vremeni?

Который час?

Kotoryj čas?

In English both variants will be translated as: What time is it?

However, the first and the second phrase are not very polite. You can ask this question to your close friend or a family member. If you want to ask time to an unknown person, so use these patterns:

Извините, Вы не подскажите который сейчас час?

Izvinite, Vy ne podskažite kotoryj sejčas čas?

Excuse me, could you tell me the time?

Скажите, пожалуйста, который сейчас час?

Skažite, požalujsta, kotoryj sejčas čas?

Please, tell me what time is it now?

Now, I think that everything is clear with asking the time.  But how to answer if somebody asks you? For this, you just need to know numbers from one to sixty and two words:

Час - Čas - Hour

Минута - Minuta – Minute

For example,  10:50 on digital clock will be in Russian:

Десять часов пятьдесят минут

Desât´ časov pât´desât minut

Ten hours and fifty minutes

By the way, do not forget about case declension.

It is very simply.

Now, learn some phrases if you like to round hours.

четверть – četvert´ - quarter after

без четверти – bez četverti  - quarter to

ровно – rovno - exactly

половина – polovina - half an hour to

пол – pol -  half an hour to

полночь - polnoč´ – midnight

почти - počti – almost

полдень - polden´ - noon

For example,

Пол пятого

Pol pâtogo

It is half past four.

Без двадцати девять

Bez dvadcati devât´

It is twenty minutes to eight

If you learn this vocabulary, so I am sure you will not have problems saying about time.

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Very useful post, KatrinK!

Just may be to make it a little easier for those just learning the language it may be worth it to say that people do not always add "Pozhalujsta" and "izvinite" to their questions.

Try saying:

Который час? - Kotorij chas? = What time is it now?

and be ready to hear all these "bez chetverti" = "quarter to" and "bez des'ati" = " 10 minutes to" and other weird time telling phrazez in Russian.

Luckily, nowadays we all have watches of this or that kind on us: mobile phones, iPods, iPads, anything tells time now.

There used to be a "time telling service" in Russia some 20 years ago. I am not sure, if it is still there, but it used to be possible to find out the correct time by dialing "100" in Moscow. A metallic voice would tell you the time:" Moskovskoje vrem'a sem' chasov vosem' minyt"...

Here is an interesting video on telling the time in Russian:

Russian lesson 6 How to tell time in Russian


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  • 7 months later...

Another great lesson! Thanks a lot! It's a pity you are no longer active here :( I hoe you come back soon!  I agree with knowing how to tell the time is still useful.  Ive asked what the time was twice this year :P One time at an American airport and another time here.  I had my mobile with me at the airport, but since I had been in another country, I wasn't sure what time was and I just wanted to make sure I'd be catching my flight on time! So yes, I had to ask a lady nearby what  time was it :) 

Some months ago I had to do the same at the doc's office.  I had forgotten my mobile... and wasn't wearing a watch.

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