How to tell time in Japanese
After learning how to write the current date in Japanese, it is also interesting to know how to ask and give the time, or 時間 djikan', in Musashi’s language.
What time is it?
To ask the time in Japanese, we say:
今 (は) 何時 ですか。
ima (wa) nan'ji dèss'ka ?
This means, literally, “What time is it right now?”
In detail, the sentence breaks down as follows:
- 今は (は) ima (wa): now
- 何 nan': what
- 時 dji: hour
- ですか dèss'ka : This indicates a question (Japanese does not typically use a question mark)
Do not forget to check for jet lag 🕓 in Japan.
Saying the time in Japanese
To give the time in Japanese, we say, for example (今は) (午後) ２時３５分 です。 (ima wa) (gogo) ni-dji sanjûgo-fun dèss', or "(Currently), it is 2:35 (in the afternoon)."
The Japanese language uses terms similar to a.m. and p.m. in English. In Japanese, we say the following:
- 午前 gozèn': "in the morning"
- 午後 gogo: "in the afternoon"
Some stores also use funny hours, such as ２５時まで (25h), or "Until 1 in the morning"!
We simply say a number and add the kanji 時 dji for "hour".
Most of the time, you will see Arabic numbers, but you may also encounter kanji. Here is a detailed table:
We use a similar system for minutes, but the pronunciation can create some problems, as several "diphthongs" are linked to the kanji for minutes, 分. Here are the pronunciations to know:
For the first 9, add the desired tens prefix to obtain the exact minute up to 59.
Finally, "half" is translated as 半 han', so for "It is 7:30 a.m.," we say, (午前) 七時半 です。 (gozèn') shitchi-ji han' dèss'.