Go to the homepage of our German Course Chapter 8: Telephone Calls University of Portsmouth
8.9 The 24-hour clock

The 24-hour clock is used much more commonly in German-speaking countries than it is in Britain - not least because abbreviations such as A.M. and P.M. are not commonly used. But the 24-hour system is also standard practice for all official time-telling including in the media, on train timetables and announcements of events etc. Subtract twelve to get the P.M. time expressed in English.

Written Spoken English
13.00 Uhr  dreizehn Uhr  1:00 P.M. 
18.00 Uhr  achtzehn Uhr  6:00 P.M. 
21.00 Uhr  einundzwanzig Uhr  9:00 P.M. 
0.00 Uhr 
24.00 Uhr 
null Uhr 
vierundzwanzig Uhr 

Minutes after the hour
When expressing the number of minutes after an hour in the German 24-hour system, you add the number of minutes after the word "Uhr" in spoken German. In written German however, the word "Uhr" comes after the minutes.

InformationAlthough midnight can be expressed in the German 24-hour clock either as null Uhr or vierundzwanzig Uhr, you can only use null Uhr when you need to express that it is a number of minutes past midnight. You cannot however say "halb null", just as you cannot say "halb dreizehn", "Viertel nach/vor dreizehn" etc.

Thus the times shown on the previous page would be expressed as follows using the 24-hour system:

One o'clock
Es ist null Uhr
Es ist 0 Uhr
   Five past twelve
Es ist null Uhr fünf
Es ist 00.05 Uhr
   Ten past twelve
Es ist null Uhr zehn
Es ist 00.10 Uhr
A quarter past twelve
Es ist null Uhr fünfzehn
Es ist 00.15 Uhr
   Twenty past twelve
Es ist null Uhr zwanzig
Es ist 00.20 Uhr
   Twenty-five past twelve
Es ist null Uhr fünfundzwanzig
Es ist 00.25 Uhr
Half past twelve
Es ist null Uhr dreißig
Es ist00.30 Uhr
   Twenty-five to one
Es ist null Uhr fünfunddreißig
Es ist 00.35 Uhr
   Twenty to one
Es ist null Uhr vierzig
Es ist 00.40 Uhr
A quarter to one
Es ist null Uhr fünfundvierzig
Es ist 00.45 Uhr
   Ten to one
Es ist null Uhr fünfzig
Es ist 00.50 Uhr
   Five to one
Es ist null Uhr fünfundfünfzig
Es ist 00.55 Uhr

Odd numbers of minutes
The twenty-four clock can of course also be used to express times where the minutes are not divisible by five:
 Es ist sechzehn Uhr neunundzwanzig / 16.29 Uhr
 Es ist zwanzig Uhr zweiundzwanzig / 20.22 Uhr
 Es ist dreiundzwanzig Uhr sechsundfünfzig / 23.56 Uhr

And a German speaking clock always uses the twenty-four system, giving the number of seconds (= die Sekunde (-n)) along with the time in hours and minutes:
 Es ist zehn Uhr dreiundvierzig Minuten dreißig Sekunden
(It is ten thirty-four and thirty seconds)

Tip!Be punctual!
Punctuality (die Pünktlichkeit) is taken very seriously in Germany. It goes without saying that strict punctuality is expected for business appointments. Note however that if somebody invites you for dinner at 7 o'clock, then that is the time that you are expected to turn up. Arriving "fashionably late" by ten or fifteen minutes - as is common in Britain - is viewed as a social faux pas. So if you find yourself running late, make sure to ring up in advance and inform your hosts!


There is slightly more leeway given in academic circles. When university students have an appointment with their tutors or professors, they should of course be punctual (pünktlich). Yet German universities have a tradition of beginning their classes fifteen minutes after the hour. This quarter-hour is known as the akademisches Viertel. Classes which begin fifteen minutes after the hour are designated "c.t." (= cum tempore) and would be listed as beginning at 9.00 c.t., 10.00 c.t., etc. Courses which begin precisely on the hour are designated "s.t." (= sine tempore) and would be listed as beginning at 9.00 s.t., 10.00 s.t., etc.

Weiter! Chapter 8.10: Days of the week

Go back to the top of the page Nach oben

Print this Document Print This Page

Homepage: Paul Joyce German Course
© Paul Joyce