Lesson 10: What time is it now?

现在几点了?Xiànzài jǐ diǎnle?


In Chinese, the words that relates
to time are 点,钟, 刻 and 分. There are rules when you are telling time in Chinese. Before we go into
time, let’s learn about counting
in Chinese. The numbers in Chinese are:-


English Simplified Chinese Pinyin English Simplified Chinese Pinyin
One Ten Shí
Two Èr Eleven 十一 Shí yī
Three Sān Twelve 十二 Shí èr
Four Hundred Bǎi
Five Thousand Qiān
Six Liù Ten Thousand Wàn
Seven Million 百万 Bǎiwàn
Eight 100 million, billion 亿
Nine Jiǔ Zero Líng


Counting in Chinese is similar to
English until the number 10. In Chinese, when we want to say eleven, we say 10
in Chinese and add one in Chinese to say eleven Shí Yī. This is the same from 20 to 90. Twenty is (two ten) in Chinese Èr Shí. When you want to say 21 in Chinese, it is (2+10+1) Èr Shí , and the rest are the same until 99. When it gets to one hundred, we say一Yī bai. What about one hundred and one? In this case, you will say 百零Yī bai Líng Yī (101).


Numbering in Chinese is most different from English when it gets to ten thousand and above. Chinese uses 万 Wàn to say the number 10,000. rather than ten and thousand in English. So 10001 is零一Wàn Líng . You use 万 until you get to million and a new Chinese word us used to mean million. Million in Chinese is 百万 Bǎiwàn. 1000999 in Chinese is百万零九百九十九Bǎiwàn Líng Jiǔ Bǎi Jiǔ Shí Jiǔ. And when it gets to 100 million, the character changes again to 亿 Yì .


When talking about amount in the hundred, thousand and more, the number two is pronounced and written different. When you want to say 200, you cannot
say Èr Bǎi, you must say Liǎng bǎi 两百 instead. This rule also applies when you are buying things, describing things or telling time. You say 两个 Liǎng gè, 两只 liǎng zhī rather than using the word Èr.


Now that we have done explaining numbers in Chinese, we shall come back to our topic for
today. As explained above, the timing words in Chinese are Diǎn, 钟 zhōng and fēn and the rules are:-


2:00 you can omit the Chinese word 钟 zhōng and just say 两点 Liǎng Diǎn

2:05 when fēn is a number less than ten,
you must add the Chinese word Líng before the number.

You have to say 两点零五Liǎng Diǎn Líng fēn

2:10 When fēn is more than 10, Líng can be omitted. You say 两点 Liǎng Diǎn Shí fēn

2:15 you say 两点一刻 Liǎng Diǎn Yī. or 两点十五Liǎng Diǎn Shí fēn

2:30 you say 两点半 Liǎng Diǎn Bàn or 两点三十分 Liǎng diǎn sān shífēn

2:45 you say 两点 Liǎng diǎn sān kè or 差一刻三点 Chà yī kè sān diǎn or 两点四十五分 Liǎng diǎn S Fēn

2:55 you say 差五分Chà Wǔ Fēn sān diǎn or 两点五十五分 Liǎng diǎn S Fēn


For today’s dialogue, we will practice on telling the time. This dialogue is between 2
sisters, Zhang Yun and Zhang Mei Li. They have an appointment and are running
late because of Zhang Mei Li.


Zhang Yun:                 Are you ready sis?

Zhang Mei Li:             Wait a minute

Zhang Yun:                 We are running late.

Zhang Mei Li:             What time is it now?

Zhang Yun:                 3:45. Our appointment is at 4:00

Zhang Mei Li:             I am coming. Oh no, I can’t find my shoes!

Zhang Yun:                 What? Could you hurry up !


张云                            你准备好了没?

张美丽                                    等一下。

张云                            我们快迟到了

张美丽                                    现在几点了?

张云                            三点三刻。我们的约会是在四点。

张美丽                                    快好了。糟了,我找不到我的鞋子。

张云                            什么?你快一点好不好。


Zhāng yún                   Nǐ zhǔnbèi hǎo le méi?

Zhāng měilì                 Děng yī xià.

Zhāng yún                   Wǒmen kuài chí dào le

Zhāng měilì                 Xiànzài jǐ diǎn le?

Zhāng yún                   Sān diǎn sān kè. Wǒmen de yuēhuì shì zài sì diǎn.

Zhāng měilì                 Kuài hǎo le. Zāo le, wǒ zhǎo bù dào wǒ de xiézi.

Zhāng yún                   Shénme? Nǐ kuài yī diǎn hǎo bù hǎo.


From the dialogue, we learned the phrase 好了没 hǎo le méi. This phrase has the meaning of ‘yet’ in English. You can also say 好了没有 hǎo le méi yǒu. Zhang Yun is trying to get a confirmation from her sister whether she is all ready to go or not. So, when you are seeking a confirmation, you can use the phrase 好了没? or 好了没有?


Question ending with了没 ler méi or 了没有 le méi yǒu is equivalent to have you? in English. For example, when you want to ask the question have you eaten? you can say 你吃饭了没(有)? Nǐ chīfànle méi (yǒu). And, if you want to ask the question have you seen this movie? you say 你看过这部电影了没(有)? Nǐ kàn guò zhè bù diànyǐng le méi (yǒu). Direct
translation of this sentence is you seen this movie or not?


等一下 Děng yī xià is a phrase you use when you want someone to wait a while . 等 means wait and 一下 means a while/a minute. You may also say 等一等 Děng yī děng or 等一会儿 Děng huǐ’r. When you want to be polite, you can add the word Shāo in front of 等一下 to become 稍等一下.


好不好 hǎo bù hǎo is a phrase you use when you are making a request or you are seeking an opinion from another person. For example, when you cannot decide which cup, you can seek opinion by asking 这个杯子好不好?Zhège bēizi hǎobù hǎo?When you are requesting someone to do something, you can also use 好不好 hǎo bù hǎo, for example, 你走快一点好不好? Can you walk faster? We have come to the end of our lesson for today. Hope the lesson is informative and enjoyable for you all. See you again for our next lesson.

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