Describe time.

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Part, Minute, Understand

Half, Middle


Time, Hour

In front, Before

Back, Behind, Later


Now, Immediately






Half past


What time, What hour

The former, The last, Before, Earlier, Ago



AM, Morning


PM, Afternoon


X o'clock

A number plus the kanji is used to express the time on the clock, for example, 3 is three o'clock and 19 is 7 pm. Either numerals or kanji can be used to express the time. Below is an example usage:

  • いま何時なんじですか?
  • What time is it now?
  • 五時ごじです。
  • It's five o'clock.


The word ふん is used to express minutes, for example: 5分 and 10. You should note that the reading for changes between ふん and ぷん depending on what number comes before .

1分いっぷん1 minute
2分にふん2 minutes
3分さんぷん3 minutes
4分よんぷん4 minutes
5分ごふん5 minutes
6分ろっぷん6 minutes
7分ななふん7 minutes
8分はっぷん8 minutes
9分きゅうふん9 minutes
10分じゅっぷん10 minutes

Reading 3分 as さんふん, 4分 as よんふん and 8分 as はちふん is getting more common these days. For minutes over 10, you can add the regular reading for larger numbers and the readings on the above table, e.g. 21分 is にじゅういっぷん and 55分 is ごじゅうごふん.

Half past

The word はん, which means half, can be used with to express the time of half passed the hour e.g. X時半じはん.

There are no words for quarter in regards to the time in Japanese, so "quarter past" and "quarter to" are expressed with 15ふん and 45ふん respectively.

  • 四時半よじはんです。
  • It's half-past four.

AM and PM

The words AM and PM are used with Japanese times, such as AM 3 and PM 8. There are Japanese words for this purpose: 午前ごぜん (AM) and 午後ごご (PM).

  • 午後ごご440ぷんです。
  • It's 4:40 PM.

Before and after a base time

The suffix まえ and can be used with vocabulary that is related to time to express how much earlier or later a time is. Let's look at some examples below:

When did I get the phone call?

  • 30分前ぷんまえです。
  • 30 minutes ago.

When does the movie start?

  • 15分後ふんごです。
  • In 15 minutes.

The suffix まえ can also be used to express how many minutes before the hour, but the suffix can not be used for the same purpose.

  • は710分前です。
  • It's ten minutes before 7 o'clock now.

How early should I arrive before the departure?

  • 30分前ぷんまえです。
  • 30 minutes beforehand.
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