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What time is it? (Real English)

Real English - lesson 9: What time is it?

In the second part of the video you'll hear the same scenes but with subtitles.


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Maybe you think you know perfectly well how to tell the time in English, but listen to this video. There are many ways of expressing the time, some ways are more common, some others are not so common, and sometimes people can even come up with a new reformulation!

Pay attention to the different ways people use to tell the time.

Notice the special intonation of questions beginning with WH-words (who, what, which, where, when, how). The intonation starts high, but then falls down at the end. See how they pronounce on this video the following question:

          What time is it?

But questions beginning with a verb don’t start so high and they rise at the end. See, for example, this sentence on the video:

          Can you spell your name?

Other ways of asking for the time are:

- can you tell me the time, please?
- could you tell me the time, please? (more polite)
- I wonder if you could tell me the time? (more formal and polite)
- do you know what time it is? (we only make one inversion in one question, so "what time it is" is not inverted here because we already inverted "do you know")
- know the time? (colloquial)
- what's the time, please?
- the time is what? (informal)

BrE vs AmE usage
In general, the most common way to express the time in Great Britain is counting the minutes past or to the o'clock time:
- (2:00) it's two o'clock (or: it's two)
- (2:05) it's five past two
- (2:15) it's quarter past two (or: it's a quarter past two)
- (2:25) it's twenty-five past two
- (2:30) it's half past two
- (2:35) it's twenty-five to three
- (2:45) it's quarter to three (or: it's a quarter to three)
- (2:50) it's ten to three

If the number of minutes is not a multiple of 5, then we usually use the word "minutes" (pronounced: minits)
- (5:12) it's twelve minutes past five
To specify if we're talking about before or after noon (12:00 midday) we say:
- (5:00 AM) it's five o'clock in the morning
- (5:00 PM) it's five o'clock in the evening

In America we can use the same constructions seen above, but it's even more common to tell the time like this:
- (2:00) two o'clock (or: it's two)
- (2:05) two o five
- (2:15) two fifteen
- (2:25) two twenty-five
- (2:30) two thirty
- (2:35) two thirty-five
- (2:45) two forty-five
- (2:50) two-fifty

If the number of minutes is not a multiple of 5 we don't need to change this construction
- (5:12) five twelve
To specify if we're talking about before or after noon (12:00 midday) we say:
- (5:00 AM) five A M
- (5:00 PM) five P M

But both varieties can be heard in BrE and AmE!

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