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How to Tell Time in Japanese

How to tell time in Japanese

Telling the time in Japanese isn’t too difficult, but it takes some practice. You will need to know the basics of counting in Japanese (see here).

Very simply the formula is:

Hour number + 時 ji + Minutes number + 分 fun

The trick is, the 分 changes with some numbers. It is recommended to learn the following chart:


Vocabulary needed:
時間 jikan time
午後 gogo afternoon; P.M.
午前 gozen morning; A.M.
mae before
Minutes: (the * means irregular pronunciation)
時間 jikan – Time
午前 gozen – A.M. (morning)
午後 gogo – P.M. (afternoon)
前 mae – Before (before the hour)

1:15 P.M. – gogo ichiji juugofun
7 A.M. – gozen shichiji
6:30 – rokuji sanjuupun
6:31 – rokuji sanjuu ippun
6:45 P.M. – gogo rokuji yonjuugo fun
15 ’til 7 – shichiji juugo fun mae

*一分 ippun 1 minute
二分 ni fun 2 minutes
三分 san pun 3 minutes
四分 yon pun 4 minutes
五分 go fun 5 minutes
*六分 roppun 6 minutes
七分 nana fun 7 minutes
*八分 happun or hachifun 8 minutes
九分 kyuu fun 9 minutes
*十分 juppun 10 minutes
*十一分 juu ippun 11 minutes

There are two pronunciation changes going on here.

1) Changes to the number itself
2) Changes to the ‘fun’

1) Changes to the number itself
The number is changed in 1, 6, 8 (sometimes) and 10:

Normal Number: Changed Number:
一分 ippun
六分 roppun
八分 happun (or often はちふん)
十分 juppun (without the extra う)

2) Changes to the ‘fun’
The 分 can change to ‘pun’ or sometimes ‘bun’ after some sounds. Please note, this is highly regional and the following should be used as a guide for further study.

Affected Numbers
一分 ippun
三分 san pun
四分 yon pun

六分 roppun
八分 happun (or often はちふん)
十分 juppun

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