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What Time Is It In French (How To Master Telling Time)

What Time Is It In French (How To Master Telling Time)

“What time is it?” in French is: “Quelle heure est-il?” (pronunciation: kɛl œʀ e til). This is the most common way of asking the time. However there are eight other more formal and less formal ways of asking the time, which we’ll examine in this post.

Towards the bottom of the post we’ll also have an in-depth look at how to tell time in French as well as read the commonly used 24-hour clock.

Complete guide to telling time in French

How to pronounce “Quelle heure est-il”

Before we go any further, let’s have a closer look at the pronunciation of “Quelle heure est-il?” (What time is it?). This page on Forvo give four excellent audio samples in both the male and female voices.

My friend friend, Vincent, a celebrity French teacher on YouTube, does a great job teaching the pronunciation in this video:

8 More ways of asking “What time is it?” in French

“Quelle heure est-il ?” is not the only show in town when it comes to asking the time in French. Below we’ll look at several more common ways of asking this question.

Quelle heure est-il? What time is it in French?

1) Il est quelle heure?

“Il est quelle heure ?” is a highly informal way of asking the time. We suggest that you not even consider using this way of asking the time with somebody you don’t know very well. “Il est quelle heure ?” should be strictly reserved for close peers and friends.

2) Tu as l’heure ?

“Tu as l’heure ?” is an informal way of asking the time in French. It is a statement question where you’re literally saying “You have the time” with an upward inflection in the voice to ask a question. “Tu as l’heure ?” should be strictly reserved for people you already know and are in your circle of peers.

3) T’as pas l’heure ?

“T’as pas l’heure ?” is an other highly informal way of asking the time; even less formal than “Tu as l’heure ?”. The literal translation of “T’as pas l’heure” is “You don’t have the time?”.

The “t’as pas” part of the question is a shortening of “tu n’as pas”, which means “you don’t have” or “don’t you have”.

This way of asking the time is even less formal than the previous “Il est quelle heure ?”. You’d only use “t’as pas l’heure ?” with close peers and family members.

4) Vous n’avez pas l’heure, par hasard ?

This is a more formal way of asking the time. You’ll immediately notice that we switched from the informal “tu” (you) to the formal form of you: “vous”.

With the ne…pas wrapped around the verb avez (vous form of avoir, which means to have), we’re asking “don’t you have”. The added, par hasard translates to “by any chance”.

5) Vous avez l’heure ?

“Vous avez l’heure ?” is simply the formal version of the informal “Tu as l’heure ?”, which we discussed above.

Again, you’d want to put an upward inflection on your voice when asking to make sure that it sounds like you’re asking a question.

Avez-vous l'heure? What time is it?

6) Avez-vous l’heure ?

“Avez-vous l’heure ?” is a formal way of asking the time. It uses an inversion of avoir (to have) in the formal “vous” form.

You could definitely follow “Avez-vous l’heure” by “s’il vous plaît”, which means please in the formal form. This page on our site covers different ways of saying please in French.

7) Auriez-vous l’heure ?

Of all the ways we’re showing you how to ask the time in French, “Auriez-vous l’heure ?” is by far the most formal.

The question is being asked with an inversion of vous (a polite way to ask a question) coupled with the verb avoir (to have) being conjugated in the conditional tense.

Normally, the conditional tense is used to express “would”. However, it’s also used to formulate polite questions. This page on our site covers the conditional tense in detail.

8) Est-ce que vous avez l’heure ?

“Est-ce que vous avez l’heure ?” is simply the above “Vous avez l’heure ?” with “est-ce que” added to the beginning of the question.

In French, “est-ce que” means is/are/do/does for yes-no questions. This page on our site covers est-ce que in detail.

“Est-ce que” could as be added to “Tu as l’heure ?” to form the question: “Est-ce que tu as l’heure ?”. This is another informal way of asking, “Do you have the time?”.

Now that we’ve discussed several ways of asking the time, we’ll now learn how to tell time in French. Before going any further it would be a good idea to review the numbers 1-60 as you’ll need them for telling time. This page on our site covers the French numbers.

Guide to telling time in French.

Telling time in French

To say the time, you use an impersonal expression “Il est + hour”. For example:

  • Il est une heure. It’s 1 o’clock
  • Il est cinq heures. It’s 5 o’clock.
  • Il est huit heures. It’s 8 o’clock.

The following table gives examples of different times of the day. We’ve followed the table with explanations of vocabulary for telling time. We’ve also included the times using the 24-hour clock, which we’ll also explain below.

TimeQuelle heure est-il?Time in French
6:00amIl est six heures (du matin)6h00
6:30amIl est six heures et demie (du matin)
Il est six heures trente
9:15amIl est neuf heures et quart9h15
10:45amIl est dix heures quarante-cinq.
Il est onze heures moins le quart.
10:50amIl est dix heures cinquante.
Il est onze heures moins dix.
12:00pmIl est midi12h00
11:50amIl est midi moins dix
Il est onze heures cinquante
1.00pmIl est une heure de l'apres-midi
Il est treize heures
3.20pmIl est est trois heures vingt de l'apres-midi
Il est quinze heures vingt
6.00pmIl est six heures du soir
Il est dix-huit heures
11.00pmIl est onze heures du soir
Il est vingt-trois heures
12.00amIl est minuit0h00
11.45pmIl onze heures quarante-cinq du soir
Il est minuit moins le quart

In the following video, Alexa, a star French teacher on YouTube, teaches how to tell time in French:

Essential vocabulary for telling time in French

The following table covers 15 minutes past the hour, 30 minutes past the hour and quarter to the hour.

15 minutes past the houret quartIl est une heure et quart.
It's 1:15
30 minutes past the houret demieIl est six heures et demie.
It's 6:30
quarter to or 45 minutes past the hourmoins le quartIl est dix heures moins le quart.
It's quarter to ten.

How to say noon and midnight

In French, do not say“il est douze heures”. Use the words midi (noon) and minuit (midnight). Noon and midnight would be written out as follows:

  • 12h00 -> Noon. Say “il est midi”.
  • 24h00 or 00h00 -> Midnight. Say, “il est minuit”.
Noon and midnight in French

French 24-hour clock (military time)

The 24-hour clock, or military time is commonly used in France. This can cause a lot of confusion for English speakers who aren’t familiar with it. Basically, from 1.00pm onwards you add twelve. Hence 1.00pm becomes 13h00.

For times in the morning until noon there’s nothing to add. For 8.00am, for example you can say:

  • Il est huit heures du matin. -> You can add “du matin” to specify “in the morning”.

For times in the afternoon from 1.00pm through 6.00pm you can either add “de l’après-midi” or use the 24-hour time. For example:

  • Il est trois heures de l’après midi. It’s 3.00pm.
  • Il est quinze heures. It’s 3.00pm.

The same goes for the evening. To say ‘in the evening’ you can add “du soir“. For example:

  • Il est huit heures du soir. It’s 8.00pm.
  • Il est vingt heures. It’s 8.00pm.

Conversion table for military time

The following table shows the conversions between standard time and the 24-hour clock.

Standard time24-hour clock
1.00pm: Il est une heure de l'après-midi.13h00: Il est treize heures.
2.00pm: Il est deux heures de l'après-midi.14h00: Il est quatorze heures.
3.00pm: Il est trois heures de l'après-midi.15h00: Il est quinze heures.
4.00pm: Il est quatre heures de l'après-midi.16h00: Il est seize heures.
5.00pm: Il est cinq heures de l'après-midi.17h00: Il est dix-sept heures.
6.00pm: Il est six heures du soir.18h00: Il est dix-huit heures.
7.00pm: Il est sept heures du soir. 19:00: Il est dix-neuf heures.
8.00pm: Il est huit heures du soir. 20h00: Il est vingt heures.
9.00pm: Il est neuf heures du soir.21:00: Il est vingt-et-une heures.
10:00pm: Il est dix heures du soir.22h00: Il est vingt-deux heures.
11:00pm: Il est onze heures du soir.23h00: Il est vingt-trois heures.

Time in French

How to use the word heure

In French (and for all Latin languages for that matter), you must use the word heure when talking about the time.

  • English 6:10: It’s six ten. You can get away without saying “o’clock”.
  • French 6:10: Il est six heures dix.

You absolutely must include the word heure. You cannot say “il est six dix”.

When writing out the word heure, it appears in the singular for une heure (1 o’clock) and plural for the rest of the hours. For example, deux heures (2 o’clock).

The word heure is abbreviated to the letter -h when writing out the time. For example:

  • 5h00 5 o’clock
  • 7h00 7 o’clock.

Heure vs. temps and fois

It’s also important that we explain that the French use different words for expressing time. The word “temps” means time as in “having the time”. For example:

  • Désolé, je n’ai pas le temps aujourd’hui. Sorry, I don’t have the time today.

The word “fois” also means time as in “how many times?”. For example:

  • J’ai visité Paris trois fois. I’ve visited Paris three times.

Expressions using the word “heure”

Finally, we thought it would be fun to end the post on a fun note by learning some French expressions which use the word “heure”.

  • rouler à deux à l’heure to drive at a snail’s pace
  • être à l’heure to be on time
  • à l’heure actuelle currently, presently
  • à l’heure H t the hour of reckoning
  • à la première heure very early, first thing
  • À tout à l’heure ! See you later!
  • de bonne heure early, bright and early
  • en temps et en heure on time, on schedule
  • l’heure creuse off-peak time
  • heure d’affluence rush hour, busy time
  • l’heure de colle, l’heure de retenue detention (after school punishment)
  • l’heure de gloire moment of glory
  • l’heure du crime witching hour, nidnight
  • passer un sale quart d’heure to go through hell, have a rough time
  • vivre à cent à l’heure to live life in the fast lane

Keep learning!
Our friend, Camille, at does a great job teaching how to tell time in French. Camille’s post offers lots of audio samples so you can learn to pronounce the words correclty.

Discover more:

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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