Lesson 098

Time in Russian

In our previous lessons we have covered a lot of Russian numbers, so let’s use this knowledge today to learn how to tell time in Russian.

12 and 24-hours systems

Russians are used to the 24-hours system. However, in the conversational speech, it is also common to use the 12-hours system.

Instead of AM and PM, we say:

утра́of morning – use it from 4-5am until 11-12 am
дняof day – use it from 11-12 am until 3-4 pm
ве́чераof evening – use it from 3-4 pm until 11-12 pm
но́чиof night – use it from 11-12 pm to 4-5 am

Notice that all these words (утро, день, вечер, ночь) are in the Genitive case.

Russian Pod 101

A bit of grammar before we start

In one of the previous lessons we have learned how to count things in Russian.

The same rules are applied here: when you say the number of hours and minutes, the words час (hour) and мину́та (minute) that go after the number must follow these rules:

– if the number ends on 1, the form of the noun doesn’t change (час, минута),

– if the last digit is from 2 to 4, the singular form in the Genitive case is used (часа́, мину́ты),

– if the last digit is 0 or from 5 to 9, use the plural Genitive form (часо́в, мину́т).

Telling time in Russian: hours

Read the examples below. Some of them include two possible ways of telling time: one is by the 12-hours system, and the second one is by the 24-hours system.

Practice them with the audio file.

00:00двена́дцать часо́в но́чи / по́лночь

01:00час но́чи

02:00два часа́ но́чи

03:00три часа́ но́чи

04:00четы́ре часа́ у́тра

05:00пять часо́в у́тра

06:00шесть часо́в у́тра

07:00семь часо́в у́тра

08:00во́семь часо́в у́тра

09:00де́вять часо́в у́тра

10:00де́сять часо́в у́тра

11:00оди́ннадцать часо́в у́тра

12:00двена́дцать часо́в дня

13:00час дня / трина́дцать часо́в

14:00два часа́ дня / четы́рнадцать часо́в

15:00три часа́ дня / пятна́дцать часо́в

16:00четы́ре часа́ дня / шестна́дцать часо́в

17:00пять часо́в ве́чера / семна́дцать часо́в

18:00шесть часо́в ве́чера / восемна́дцать часо́в

19:00семь часо́в ве́чера / девятна́дцать часо́в

20:00во́семь часо́в ве́чера / два́дцать часо́в

21:00де́вять часо́в ве́чера / два́дцать оди́н час

22:00де́сять часо́в ве́чера / два́дцать два часа́

23:00оди́ннадцать часо́в ве́чера / два́дцать три часа́

Good to know

You can actually omit the word часо́в completely:

17:00пять ве́чера5 PM

09:00де́вять у́тра9 AM

Kalinka Russian Course

Telling time in Russian: minutes

For 0 minutes we use the word ро́вно:

14:00два часа́ ро́вно (lit.: two hours exactly)

Otherwise, there are a few possible ways of telling exact time in Russian. Let’s look at them one by one:

The most straightforward way

11:34оди́ннадцать часо́в три́дцать четы́ре мину́ты / оди́ннадцать три́дцать четы́ре

22:12де́сять часо́в двена́дцать мину́т

A bit more complicated way

A very common way to tell time in Russian is to name the following hour and not the current one. The logic behind this is that the following hour has actually started with the first minutes after 00. For example, if it is 11:01, it means that 11 hours have already passed since 00:00 and the twelfth one started.

Have a look at how it works:

With the number of minutes from 1 to 30:

In this case, the numeral of the following hour must be in the ordinal form and in the Genitive case. Have a look below:

12:02две мину́ты пе́рвого (lit: two minutes of the first)

14:05пять мину́т тре́тьего (lit: five minutes of the third)

With the number of minutes from 31 to 59:

After the minutes go beyond 30, you start counting not how many minutes passed but how many left adding the preposition без (without). The number of minutes takes the Genitive case:

06:40без двадцати́ семь (lit: seven without twenty)

20:55без пяти́ де́вять (lit: nine without five)

16:35без двадцати́ пяти́ пять (lit: five without twenty five)

19:48без двена́дцати во́семь (lit: eight without twelve)

09:59без одно́й мину́ты де́сять (lit: ten without one)

Halves and quarters

When it comes to 15, 30 and 45 minutes, there is one more form to tell time in Russian:

12:30полови́на пе́рвого / полпе́рвого (lit: half of the first)

20:30полови́на девя́того / полдевя́того (lit: half of the ninth)

14:15че́тверть тре́тьего (lit: a quarter of the third)

19:45без че́тверти во́семь (lit: eight without a quarter)

Russian Alphabet

A rounding way

When it is a beginning of an hour (let’s say from 0 to 10 minutes), you can tell time using the word нача́ло (beginning) without specifying the number of minutes:

06:03нача́ло седьмо́го (lit: beginning of the seventh)

14:07нача́ло тре́тьего (lit: beginning of the third)

This is it for this lesson. We hope our course helps you in your journey to learn Russian. Practice the examples with the audio track, the examples that are in the audio are highlighted.

In the following lessons we will cover how to ask time in Russian, how to agree on specific time, as well as the declension of Russian numerals.

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