Die Uhrzeit - Telling Time

Telling time in German is very much similar to English. The only major difference is that Germans often use the 24-hour system, as opposed to the 12-hour system that is usually used.

In order to tell time in German, you should know the German numbers, so make sure to check the first lesson of this unit first.

Asking for the Time

The following questions are often used to ask for the time:

  • Wie spät ist es? - How late is it?
  • Wie viel Uhr ist es? - How much time is it?

Telling the time at the top of the hour in the 12-hour system is very easy; the word 'Uhr' (meaning o'clock) is just added after the number.

  • Es ist vier Uhr - It is four o'clock
  • Es ist sieben Uhr - It is seven o'clock


In German, the word for 'quarter' is 'Viertel', and is used in the following ways:

  • Viertel nach neun - Quarter past nine (9:15)
  • Viertel vor neun - Quarter to nine (8:45)
  • Dreiviertel neun - Quarter to nine (8:45)

Half Past

In German, the word for 'half past' is 'halb', and is used very differently than in English; as it refers to half an hour before the next hour, rather than half an hour after the next hour.

  • halbdrei - Half past two (2:30)
  • halbacht - Half past seven (7:30)

Precise Time

For more precision, time could be expressed in hours and minutes by placing the word 'Uhr' between them. This method is also used when expressing time in the 24-hour system.

  • Es ist acht Uhr zwölf (8:12am)
  • Es ist zwei Uhr dreißig (2:30am)
  • Es ist vierzehn Uhr fünfzig (2:50pm)
  • Es ist einundzwanzig Uhr fünf (9:05pm)

See? Telling time in German isn't that hard!
Hopefully the next time you get asked 'Wie spät ist es?', you will be able to answer in more than one different way!