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 uur||Het is ern uwr||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.
- Time Units in Dutch
- 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 seconde||der se- konde||The second|
|De minuut||der mi-nuwt||The minute|
|Het uur||het uwr||The hour|
|Kwartier||kvar-teer||A quarter/15 minutes|
|Driekwartier||dree kvar-teer||Three quarters/45 minutes|
Parts of the day in Dutch
|twaalf uur ‘s middags||Tvaalf uwr smi-dakhs||noon|
|twaalf uur ‘s nachts / middernacht||Tvaalf uwr snakhts/ mi-der nakht||midnight|
|‘s ochtends||sokh-terns||In the morning|
|‘s middags||smi-dakhs||In the afternoon|
|‘s avonds||saa-fonts||In the evening|
|‘s nachts||snakhts||At night|
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 uur||het is tvay uwr||It’s two o’clock|
|het is twee uur vijftien||het is tvay uwr fayf-teen||it’s two fifteen|
|het is twee uur dertig||het is tvay uwr dehr-tikh||it’s two thirty|
|het is twee uur vijfenveertig||het is tvay uwr fayf-en-fayr-tikh||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 uur||het is tvay uwr||It’s two o’clock|
|Het is vijf over twee||het is fayf oa-fer tvay||It’s five past two|
|Het is tien over twee||het is teen oa-fer tvay||It’s ten past two|
|Het is kwart over twee||het is kvart oa-fer tvay||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 dree||It’s twenty past two.|
|Het is vijf voor half drie.||het is fayf foar half dree||It’s twentyfive|
|Het is half drie.||het is half dree||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 dree||It’s twentyfive to three.|
|Het is tien over half drie.||het is teen oa-fer half dree||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 dree||It’s quarter to three.|
|Het is tien voor drie.||het is teen foar dree||It’s ten to three.|
|Het is vijf voor drie.||het is fayf foar dree||it’s five to three.|
|Het is drie uur.||het is dree uwr||It’s three o’clock.|
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.
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