English in Use/Time and Date

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Here are some hints on how to express the date and time in English:


  • The day of the month, the month, and the year:
    • Use on + ordinal of the day. On the 1st of June.
    • Use in + only and the month. In June.
    • Use about the + date (for approximate dates). About the 25th of December.
  • Day of the week: precedes on. Example: open on Sundays.
  • Ask the date: what's the date and what day is it (or today)?.
  • Answer a date asking: today's the + ordinal. Today's the 16th.
  • Century: in the + the ordinal of the century. Example: in the 20th century.
  • Decade:
    • Precedes in with the number in plural: in the 1990s.
    • Follows something for undetermined year of the decade, in other words: in 1980 something.
  • Era:
    • A.D. = Anno Domini, Latin for in the year of the Lord, in other words the Christian Era.
    • B.C. = Before Christ, in other words before Christian Era.


  • Ask the time: What time is it? and What is the time?
  • Answer: It is and the part of the hour or the minutes, seconds: It is five o'clock.
  • Parts of the day:
  • Parts of the hour:
    • O'clock, for example: It is one o'clock (1:00).
    • Past and to:
      • It is 4 minutes past 5 (5:04) (or 4 minutes after 5 in USA).
      • It is 20 to 5 (4:40) (or 20 before 5 in USA).
    • Quarter:
      • A quarter past, for example: It is a quarter past 9 (9:15) (or a quarter after 9 in USA).
      • A quarter to, for example: It is a quarter to 12 (11:45) (or a quarter before 12 in USA).
    • Half past, for example: It is half past 9 (9:30).
  • Answer to when?:
    • Certain time: At, for example: At 5 p.m..
    • Proximity:
      • Nearly, about : It is about 10 o'clock.
      • Just after: It is just after 10 (a few minutes past 10).
  • Synonyms for times:
    • Noon, Midday: 12:00 in the 24 hour clock. It is 5 past noon (12:05).
    • Midnight: 0:00 in the 24 hour clock. Half past midnight (00:30).