French Connection- Telling Time in French

French Connection

In France, time is based upon a 24 hour clock, more commonly known as ‘Military Time’. This means that if the time is 4:00 pm in the United States, it would be 16:00 in France. Except it wouldn’t be. Just to make things a bit crazier, we also have to factor in the time difference. From where I live on the East Coast, there is a 6 hour time difference. So, if it is 4:00 pm in the United States, it would be 22:00 in France. Confused? No worries. You’ll get the hang of it.

To write the time in numerical form, you write the hour followed by the letter ‘h’, and ending with the minutes. If it is 3:56 am, the time would be written as 3h56. If it was 3:56 pm, the time would be written as 15h56.

To give you some practice, tell me what time it would be in the EAST COAST of the UNITED STATES if this clock shows the current time AT NIGHT in FRANCE: 

Click “Continue Reading” for the answer AND for more information on telling time:


The time shows that it is 9:30 pm in France, so we would write that as 21h30. To calculate the time difference of the East Coast, we have to subtract 6 hours from the time, which would make the time 15h30. Then we have to translate the time to how we would write it in the US, which would be 3:30 pm.


heure- the word for hour. When writing time, you would say ‘Il est __ heures __. (I will explain this more later.)

moins- used when the time is past the 30 minute mark. You would write the time using the next consecutive hour and say ‘moins…’ followed by the minutes remaining. For example, if the time was 3:47 am, you would say: ‘Il est quatre heures moins treize’.

minuit- the word for midnight. To say ‘At midnight,’ you would write ‘Á minuit…’

quart- used when the time is either at the 15 minute mark or the 45 minute mark. At 2:15 am, the time would be said as ‘Il est deux heures et quart. At 2:45 am, the time would be said as ‘Il est trois heures moins le quart’.

midi- the word for noon. To say ‘At noon’, you would write ‘Á midi…’

et demi- used when the time is at the 30 minute mark. At 5:30 am, the time would be said as ‘Il est cinq heures et demi.’


The standard format for speaking the time is: Il est __ heures __. The first blank is filled in with the current hour, except when the time is past the 30 minute mark. The second blank is filled in either with the number of minutes or phrases such as ‘moins le quart’ and ‘et demi’. Below are a variety of french times all in the AM form along with how you would say each time in France:

8:24- Il est huit heures vingt-quatre.

6:15- Il est six heures et quart.

3:33- Il est quatre heures moins vingt-sept.

12:00 am- Il est minuit.

12:00 pm- Il est midi.

2:30- Il est deux heures et demi.

4:16- Il est quatre heures seize.

There are also several other phrases that can be used for telling time, such as ‘soir’ for the word evening, ‘matin’ for the word morning, ‘hier’ for the word yesterday’, ‘demain’ for tomorrow, and ‘aujourd’hui’ for the word today.

Thanks so much for reading!





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