Knowing how to read the clock and tell the time in Mandarin Chinese is essential.
Whether you’re planning a hangout, booking a doctor’s appointment, or scheduling your monthly manicure, you’ll need to talk about time. You also won’t want to miss an important interview or meeting because of a simple misunderstanding.
Being able to indicate the time is a basic conversational skill for any Mandarin learner.
So there’s no better time than now to begin learning about the Chinese time system.
Thankfully, it is pretty straightforward.😊
In this guide, we’ll explore the basic vocabulary and phrases you’ll need to tell (or ask) the time.
You’ll learn how to express time, schedule an appointment or meetup, and ask basic questions related to time.
Let’s get started.
How to talk about numbers in Chinese
To kick things off, let’s take a look at the basic numbering system used to express time in Mandarin Chinese.
If you’ve been digging through some Chinese resources, you’ve probably already covered this.
Even then, now’s a good time for some revision!
|Two||两||Liǎng (二 - Èr is not used in this case)|
Here are two important things you should take note of.
Firstly, be careful of the Chinese pinyin.
You may have noticed that 四 (sì), meaning “four,” sounds a little similar to 十 (shí), which means “ten.” It’s common for new learners to get these two mixed up when talking, and this can lead to confusion.
You may have also noticed that the number “two” can come in two different forms.
The first is 两 (liǎng) and the second is 二 (èr).
Èr is typically used when talking about numbers and maths, while liǎng is used to express a quantity or say “two of.”
When talking about time, we use liǎng.
But do note that there’s no such thing as 十两. The correct way to say twelve is 十二 (shí’èr).
Stating the hours in Mandarin Chinese
Now that you’ve learned the basic numbers in Chinese, we can move on to stating the hours.
Just keep this simple formula in mind:
- Number + 点 (diǎn)
Here are some examples: