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How to Tell the Time in Russian

We’ll try to explain to you how to answer the question “Который час?” (What time is it?) in the Russian language.

Time in Russian

Phrases for telling the time in Russian

In general we divide the day in 2 x 12 hours, from полночь (midnight) to полдень (midday) and from полдень (midday) to полночь (midnight).

If you want to be more precise, you’ll have to add утра (morning), дня (afternoon), вечера (evening), ночи (night):

  • три часа дня (three o’clock in the afternoon)
  • десять часов утра (ten o’clock in the morning)

To tell the exact time in Russian is really simple: use a cardinal number (один, два, три …) + час (hour). But watch below the declension of час.

Который час? (what time is it?)

  • Сейчас один час (now it’s one o’clock).
  • Сейчас два часа (now it’s two o’clock).
  • Сейчас три часа (now it’s three o’clock).
  • Сейчас четыре часа (now it’s four o’clock).
  • Сейчас пять часов (now it’s five o’clock).

With the cardinal numbers 2, 3, 4 час has to be declined in the genitive singular (часа) and cardinal numbers from five onwards are followed with the noun in genitive plural (часов).

We also can say “пять часов ровно” or “ровно пять часов” (five o’clock sharp).

Phrases for quarter and half

Половина means half past, четверть is used for the quarter and без четверти for 45 minutes or quarter to.

Который час? (what time is it?)

  • Сейчас четверть десятого (now it’s quarter past nine).
  • Сейчас половина пятого (now it’s half past four).
  • Сейчас без четверти час (now it’s quarter to one).

Phrases for the first half-hour

Note, when we tell the time in Russian (apart from the exact time), we look at the hour to come and not the one that has started. For example, for the first 30 minutes, we say, “три минуты десятого (three minutes of the tenth hour) and for the second half of an hour, we say “без пяти минут девять(five minutes to nine), the same way we do in English.

We use the cardinal number (одна, два, три …) + минута (for 1 and 21), минуты (for 2, 3, 4, 22, 23, 24) or минут for the other numbers + the ordinal number for the hour (первого, второго, третьего …).

Который час? (what time is it?)

  • Сейчас пять минут второго (now it’s five past one).
  • Сейчас десять минут третьего (now it’s ten past two).
  • Сейчас двадцать минут одиннадцатого (now its twenty past ten).
  • Сейчас двадцать пять минут шестого (now its twenty five past five).

Phrases for the second half-hour

We use без (without) + genitive singular/plural of the number of minutes + минуты/минут + cardinal number for the hours.

Который час? (what time is it?)

  • Сейчас без двадцати пяти минут пять (now it’s twenty five to five).
  • Сейчас без двадцати минут девять (now it’s twenty to nine).
  • Сейчас без десяти минут шесть (now it’s ten to six).
  • Сейчас без пяти минут три (now it’s five to three).

Note that sometimes you can encounter the form: “Сейчас без пяти три” (now it’s five to three) without using the noun минута (minute).

More about time expressions here.