How To Tell The Time In Dutch

To be able to tell the time in Dutch is a good skill to have and relevant to almost everything you will do if you interact with Dutch people, live, or visit the Netherlands.

You do not want to be late meeting your Dutch friends, family or colleagues, the Dutch are quite punctual when it comes to time.

Hoe laat is het?hoo laat is het?what time is it?
Weet je hoe laat het is?vayt ye hoo laat is het?Do you know what time it is?
Het is een uurHet is ern uwrIt is one o’clock
Hoe laat is het? / What time is it?
Weet je hoe laat het is? / Do you know what time it is?
Het is een uur / it is one o’clock

To tell the time in Dutch, you will also need to know How to count in Dutch. Especially the numbers 1 through 59 are important when talking about telling the time. If you need a refresher, please look at our article How to count in Dutch.

To tell time we need to address the following topics.

  1. Time Units in Dutch
  2. Parts of the Day in Dutch

Time units in Dutch

The words that the Dutch use for the time units are very similar to the English ones.

De secondeder se- kondeThe second
De minuutder mi-nuwtThe minute
Het uurhet uwrThe hour
Kwartierkvar-teerA quarter/15 minutes
Driekwartierdree kvar-teerThree quarters/45 minutes
De seconde / The second
De minuut / The minute
Het uur / The hour
Kwartier / A quarter
Driekwartier / Three quarters

Parts of the day in Dutch

twaalf uur ‘s middagsTvaalf uwr smi-dakhsnoon
twaalf uur ‘s nachts / middernachtTvaalf uwr snakhts/ mi-der nakhtmidnight
‘s ochtendssokh-ternsIn the morning
‘s middagssmi-dakhsIn the afternoon
‘s avondssaa-fontsIn the evening
‘s nachtssnakhtsAt night
twaalf uur ‘s middags / Noon
twaalf uur ‘s nachts / midnight
‘s ochtends / In the morning
‘s middags / In the afternoon
‘s avonds / In the evening
‘s nachts / At night

Telling Time 

There are two ways of telling the time.  The digital system and the analogue system. 

Everyone will understand you when you use the digital system, hover the analogue system is more common. 

Using the digital system, you say: 

het is twee uurhet is tvay uwr It’s two o’clock
het is twee uur vijftienhet is tvay uwr fayf-teenit’s two fifteen
het is twee uur dertighet is tvay uwr dehr-tikhit’s two thirty
het is twee uur vijfenveertighet is tvay uwr fayf-en-fayr-tikhIt’s two forty-five
het is twee uur / It’s two o’clock
het is twee uur vijftien / it’s two fifteen
het is twee uur dertig / it’s two thirty
het is twee uur vijfenveertig / It’s two forty-five

The analogue system in Dutch is a bit complicated. Most languages divide the clock in two halves. In the right half, they look backwards to the last hour, in the left they look forwards to the next hour. 

Dividing the Clock

In Dutch, the clock is separated in four parts. 

The first quarter of the clock

This part is easy. It’s just like in English: you look back to the past hour and you say in Dutch:

Het is twee uurhet is tvay uwrIt’s two o’clock
Het is vijf over tweehet is fayf oa-fer tvayIt’s five past two
Het is tien over tweehet is teen oa-fer tvayIt’s ten past two
Het is kwart over tweehet is kvart oa-fer tvayIt’s a quarter past two
Het is twee uur / It’s two o’clock
Het is vijf over twee / It’s five past two
Het is tien over twee / It’s ten past two
Het is kwart over twee / It’s a quarter past two

The second quarter of the clock

Let’s take a look at the second part of the clock. What you do is you start looking forward to the next
half hour and say:

Het is tien voor half drie.het is teen foar half dreeIt’s twenty past two.
Het is vijf voor half drie.het is fayf foar half dreeIt’s twentyfive
past two.
Het is half drie.het is half dreeIt’s half past two.
Het is tien voor half drie. / It’s twenty past two.
Het is vijf voor half drie. / It’s twentyfive
past two.
Het is half drie. / It’s half past two.

The third quarter of the clock

Then we go into the third quarter of the clock. You keep in mind the half hour and start looking backwards to it.

Het is vijf over half drie.het is fayf oa-fer half dreeIt’s twentyfive to three.
Het is tien over half drie.het is teen oa-fer half dreeIt’s twenty to three.
Het is vijf over half drie. / It’s twentyfive to three.
Het is tien over half drie. / It’s twenty to three.

The fourth quarter of the clock

And then finally we go to the fourth quarter and you look forward to the next hour.

Het is kwart voor drie.het is kvart foar dreeIt’s quarter to three.
Het is tien voor drie.het is teen foar dreeIt’s ten to three.
Het is vijf voor drie.het is fayf foar dreeit’s five to three.
Het is drie uur.het is dree uwrIt’s three o’clock.
Het is kwart voor drie. / It’s quarter to three.
Het is tien voor drie. / It’s ten to three.
Het is vijf voor drie. / it’s five to three.
Het is drie uur. / It’s three o’clock.

Dutch Punctuality

The Dutch are in general quite punctual. Punctuality is regarded as a good virtue. If you are late it’s common to apologize for being late and most of the times you apologies for a late arrival will be accepted good-naturedly. If you are unexpectedly delayed, send a message or call ahead and let the others know when they can expect you.

Do want to learn, speak and read more Dutch?

Now that you understand the vocabulary for telling time in Dutch, the best thing you can do is to keep practicing it daily. Say the time to yourself in Dutch and it will become a habit. People will appreciate that you are trying to speak Dutch. If you want to learn more common words and expressions, then please check out our other posts. 

If you are serious about learning Dutch and you want to master the basics in a short amount of time then check out our easy, fun and fast Online Dutch course.

While it can take you awhile to learn a language by searching things on google and using apps, – with this comprehensive language course, it will just take you a couple of weeks to see some real progress in your abilities. You will be surprised at how  quick you will be able to talk in Dutch and leave a good impression! You want to know what time it is in the Netherlands Right now >> current time in the Netherlands right now

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