Category: "What time is it"

Который час? Сколько времени? (шесть часов)

by Don  

If you want to answer the question «Который час?» or «Сколько времени?» when the time is right on the hour, the phrases are:

Сейчас час.It is now one o'clock.
Сейчас два часа.It is now two o'clock.
Сейчас три часа.It is now three o'clock.
Сейчас четыре часа.It is now four o'clock.
Сейчас пять часов.It is now five o'clock.
Сейчас шесть часов.It is now six o'clock.
Сейчас семь часов.It is now seven o'clock.
Сейчас восемь часов.It is now eight o'clock.
Сейчас девять часов.It is now nine o'clock.
Сейчас десять часов.It is now ten o'clock.
Сейчас одиннадцать часов.It is now eleven o'clock.
Сейчас двенадцать часов.It is now twelve noon.

You can use those phrases for times both a.m. and p.m. Civilian Russians are much more comfortable with military time (24-hour clock time) than civilian Americans, so it's also possible to hear these hours with the number zero and with numbers thirteen and above:

Сейчас ноль часов.It is now midnight.
(Lit. “It is now zero hours.”)
Сейчас тринадцать часов.It is now one p.m.
Сейчас четырнадцать часов.It is now two p.m.
Сейчас пятнадцать часов.It is now three p.m.
Сейчас шестнадцать часов.It is now four p.m.
Сейчас семнадцать часов.It is now five p.m.
Сейчас восемнадцать часов.It is now six p.m.
Сейчас девятнадцать часов.It is now seven p.m.
Сейчас двадцать часов.It is now eight p.m.
Сейчас двадцать один час.It is now nine p.m.
Сейчас двадцать два часа.It is now ten p.m.
Сейчас двадцать три часа.It is now eleven p.m.

Although it is perfectly fine (though rather officious) to say «Сейчас ноль часов», it is more common to say «Сейчас двенадцать ночи» “It is now twelve of the night” or «Сейчас полночь» “It is now midnight.”

Other entries dealing with time are soon to come. Look for them under the categories "Time phrases" and "What time is it" and "At what time."

Который час? Сколько времени? (шестой час)

by Don  

There are many ways to answer the questions «Который час?» and «Сколько времени?» The easiest way is also the strangest way to the American way of thinking, using an ordinal number followed by the word час hour:

Который час?What time is it?
Шестой час.It's between five and six.
(Lit. “It's the sixth hour.”)

The hour from twelve to one is considered the first hour of the twelve-hour clock, so if someone in response to «Который час?» answers «Первый час», then that means it's somewhere from 12:00 to 12:59. If the answer is «Двенадцатый час», that means it's between eleven and twelve. Sometimes it's okay to fudge a bit in translating them into English:

Пятый час."It's after four" or
"It's between four and five."
Пошёл уже восьмой час.It's already after seven.

That probably seems like a weird way to tell time, but I bet it harkens back to the days of sundials. Sundials aren't like digital watches that easily display minutes and seconds. You glance at the sundial and you can most quickly tell what the hour is, and you see what number the shadow is moving toward, so just naming the hour was probably a fairly practical thing for people to do.

Other entries dealing with time are soon to come. Look for them under the categories "Time phrases" and "What time is it" and "At what time."

Который час? Сколько времени?

by Don  

There are two ways to say “What time is it?” in Russian, and they are «Который час?» and «Сколько времени?» «Который час?» is the traditional way of asking the question, and you will find some Russians still who insist that it is the only way you can say it. But truth to tell, «Сколько времени?» or «Сколько сейчас времени?» are perfectly normal and perfectly educated ways to ask the question as well nowadays. If someone is inclined to be contentious about this point, please refer to this entry (mirror) from the Dictionary of Difficulties at

In conversational Russian you will also hear people say «Сколько время?» but that is conversational and low style. No one will ever use it in writing or in an educated context, so foreigners should avoid it.

Asking what time it is is a piece of cake in Russian. Answering that question is more like a piece of gristle... actually a whole mouthful of nasty ol' gristle. It turns out that you have different rules for saying what time it is depending on whether the time is:

  • right on the hour, or
  • a quarter after the hour, or
  • a quarter to the hour, or
  • half past the hour, or
  • at a particular minute during the first half of the hour, or
  • at a particular mintue during the second half of the hour, or
  • generically somewhere between one hour or another.

That's right. You have to figure out how to say each of those things separately. Over the next couple of weeks we will review the different ways to say what time it is in thorough detial. Are you starting to wish you had studied Arabic?

Other entries dealing with time are soon to come. Look for them under the categories "Time phrases" and "What time is it" and "At what time."

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