Getting the time and giving the time of day is something we English speakers do all the time. So it’s important that you feel comfortable hearing and asking for the time in English and the good news is you can get this IELTS listening practice online in today’s podcast.
Now it would be great if the English language used a single simple formula for time, no big surprise here, but it does not. There are several ways of saying exactly the same time in English and unfortunately for a new English language learner, you must get familiar with learn them all.
So an example of the problem might be, I ask someone on a train time, and someone might respond:
- “It’s eight, thirty” (it’s a question about now and it’s the morning so we both know this, so we don’t say am which means before midday)
- “It’s eight, thirty am” (even though we both know it’s the morning, the person specifies am “before midday“ anyway)
- The person may say “it’s half-past eight”
- or “Thirty minutes past eight”
- or “Just gone eight thirty”
The basic ingredients are the same, the hour and minutes and if needed the am (ante meridiem) or pm (post meridiem), but the order and style of delivery will differ from person to person. The only way to deal with this inconsistency is to listen to lots of variations and practice.
timings google stitcher
|24 hour clock||7|
|a lot of||5|
|in the UK||4|
|Basingstoke at 10:15||4|
|12 hour clock||4|
Hi, I’m Hilary and this is the latest podcast from Adept English. Welcome to this podcast. If you’re new to our podcasts, and you need to practice your understanding of spoken English, then we’re here to help you improve your English. Check out our website at adeptenglish.com because there’s a lot more listening material there for you. And if you’re a regular listener, listen out for news on our podcast download service – this is something new, which you might like! You’ll hear about it during this podcast.
If you do a lot of IELTS Listening Practice Online, (so that’s International English Language Testing System)…..so, if you do a lot of IELTS Listening Practice Online, in the listening practice tests, you’ll notice that there are often times and timings mentioned. Many of the IELTS Listening Practice Online pieces are about travel. So it may be a conversation between two people about a train, or about a bus or about how to get somewhere. Or it could also be about what time the swimming pool or the cinema is open – and a conversation around booking tickets to something. So there’ll always be part of the conversation and the questions which concern time and timings.
So you’ll probably have learned words for time fairly early on in your English lessons. But let’s do a recap – and also take in the fact that in English, people say the time in different ways. So the format that English speakers use for time on IELTS Listening Practice Online tests can vary. So let’s have a look at some of them.
So a typical IELTS Listening Practice Online test might have a conversation where someone is asking about catching a train. So an example of what you might hear - a person saying “The Southampton train leaves London Waterloo at 9:33pm and gets into Basingstoke at 10:15.” That’s the kind of sentence that you might hear in one of these tests, so let’s just break that down a little. I’ll say it again “The Southampton train leaves London Waterloo at 9:33pm and gets into Basingstoke at 10:15.”
So that means that London Waterloo is the station that you’re going to catch the train from. The end point, the final destination of the train is Southampton. But you want to get off the train at Basingstoke, so you’re not going all the way to Southampton. And the time that the train leaves Waterloo is 9:33pm and it arrives at Basingstoke at 10:15.
OK, so hopefully that’s understandable. Let’s have a look at the different ways that we say the time in the UK. So one of the ways we say time is as in the example I’ve just given – 9:33 means thirty three minutes after nine. If we’re looking at times for trains or buses, then they are often [at] an odd minute – so the train might set off, might depart at 12.47 or 7.08. So we’d tend to use this way of saying the time, if the minutes don’t have a 0 or a 5 at the end. When you hear ‘am’ or ‘pm’, that’s because in conversation, we usually use the 12 hour clock in the UK. So ‘am’ means between 12 midnight and 12 midday and ‘pm’ at the end tells us that it’s between 12 midday and 12 midnight ‘after noon’, if you like. So that’s hopefully quite simple – and I imagine it will reflect the way you say the time in your language?
How else might we talk about the time? Well, in conversation, we might say ‘just after half past nine’, or even ‘just after half past nine in the evening’ so that’s the other way of saying 9.33pm. And the other way of saying 10:15? Yes, that’s right, you’ve got that ‘quarter past ten’. Or ‘quarter past ten in the evening’. Where the time is ‘on the hour’, we say o’clock – so 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock. And remember o’clock is spelt O-’-C-L-O-C-K. I imagine originally it was ‘of the clock’, but we’ve shortened it. And then we count past the hour. So it’s five past nine, it’s ten past nine, it’s quarter past nine – all the way to half past nine. And then five minutes after half past nine, it’s twenty five to ten, twenty to ten, quarter to ten etc. all the way up to ten o’clock. So you’re more likely to get this type of time telling in spoken English, in conversation. If you ask someone in the street the time, you’ll probably hear this way of saying it. Or if you’re asking for an opening or a closing time. It’s unlikely that a shop will open at 9.33 or 9.37 – it’s much more like to open on a whole number, so it’s going to be something like ‘nine thirty’ or ‘half nine’ as the opening time.
A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.
If it’s tickets for a concert, or the cinema, or what time the swimming pool or the library opens then again whole numbers – and you’ve got the choice, you can say it either way. So you can say ‘half nine’ or ‘nine thirty’, you can say ‘eleven forty five’ or quarter to twelve’. They’re conversational ways of talking about time. But if you’re looking directly at a timetable say for a bus, and you’re answering questions for an IELTS Listening Practice Online test then bus times might be 7.38 or 10.26 or 11.51, with the odd minutes so we’ll say it that way. We wouldn’t normally bother to work out that 9:33 – ‘Oooh-er that’s 27 minutes to ten’. That’s too much hard work! So just to summarise, in conversation and where times end in 5 or 0 which is more likely for some things, we have the option to say both ways and if we’re looking at a timetable, we’ll say 12.48 or whatever instead.
What about the 12 hour clock versus the 24 hour clock? We do use both in the UK, but it depends on the context. If you’re in conversation we mostly use the 12 hour clock and as I’ve described, we tend to use am or pm to show which half of the day we mean – whether it’s 4am or 4pm. We might say 4 o’clock in the morning, or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. If you said to friends in the UK ‘We are going to go to the pub at 21:00 hours’, so using 24 hour clock, that would probably make them smile because it would sound so ‘official’, so formal. You’re much more likely to say ‘We’re going to the pub at 9’ or ‘We’re going to the pub at 9 o’clock. Are you coming?’. Or you might say ‘At 9pm’ of course. However you may find 24 hour clock being used if timing needs to be very precise, like when you’re dealing with a timetable – so you will have to deal perhaps with 24 hour clock format. So you’d read a timetable out loud as it’s written - 20:46 or 21:50 or whatever. And notice also for those times early in the morning, if using 24 hour clock, we would say either 04:00 hour or 08:00 for the o’clock times, for the times on the hour.
If you’re in conversation with someone, unless you are in the army and discussing a military manoeuvre, you probably wouldn’t use the 24 hour clock. It’s difficult for me to judge whether this is really obvious and easy for you, the listener or whether you’d like more help on it. Why don’t you email us or talk to us on Facebook and let us know whether this podcast was really, really simple and easy for you or whether it was difficult?! It’s hard for me to judge!
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OK, so we’re nearly done on times for IELTS tests. How about we do some pronunciation practice here? I’ve chosen a couple of sentences and I’ll repeat them to you three times. Say them after me and try to follow my pronunciation.
- The Southampton train leaves London Waterloo at 9:33pm and gets into Basingstoke at 10:15.
- You can catch the bus at 11:30 at the station and it takes 40 minutes to arrive in the town centre.
- The swimming pool opens at 8am and closes at 7 in the evening.
So there you are – some helpful input, if you’re using IELTS Listening Practice Online tests to help you prepare for an exam, but also useful input for anyone wanting to be fluent in English and absolutely comfortable with saying times.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.