Chinese Grammar - Ask and Express Time

Updated: May 11, 2020

Ask and Express Time in Mandarin

Learning Highlight

  • Learn how to ask and express time.

How to ask “What’s the time?”

In Mandarin, you could say “现在几点, xiàn zài jǐ diǎn?”

  • 现在, xiàn zài” means “‘now”.

  • 几, jǐ ” is an interrogative pronoun which is used to ask about a number and express its quantity.

  • 点, diǎn” is used to express time, means ‘o’clock’.

When put them together “xiàn zài jǐ diǎn”, literally means ‘Now what’s the o’clock?’ which is used as “What time is it now?”

How to respond when a person asks, “xiàn zài jǐ diǎn” (What’s the time)?

For example: 九点 (It’s nine o’clock).

You respond “九 (nine) + diǎn, pronounced as “Jiǔ (nine) diǎn”

The grammatical structure of using, diǎn” is: Number + diǎn

Let’s take more examples:

  • 十二点 , shí èr diǎn (Twelve o’clock)

  • 三点, sān diǎn (Three o’clock)

In Mandarin, 分, fèn is also used to express the time, means ‘minute’.

For example: 九点十五分 (It’s nine fifteen)

You respond, 九 (nine) + diǎn + (十五) fifteen + fèn, pronounced as “jiǔ diǎn shí wǔ fèn”

The grammatical structure of using “diǎn” and “fèn” is: Hour + diǎn + Minute + fèn

Let’s take more examples:

  • 十二点三十分, shí èr diǎn sān shí fèn” (Twelve thirty)

  • 三点二十分, sān diǎn èr shí fèn” (Three twenty)

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