Hours and Telling Time

Hours and Telling Time

While many countries favour the 12-hour clock system, Portuguese-speaking countries usually use the 24-hour clock.

English Time (am)Portuguese TimeEnglish Time (pm)Portuguese Time
12 am (midnight)00h (zero horas or meia-noite)12pm (noon)12h (doze horas or meio-dia)
11h (uma hora)113h (treze horas)
22h (duas horas)214h (catorze horas)
33h (três horas)315h (quinze horas)
44h (quatro horas)416h (dezasseis horas)
55h (cinco horas)517h (dezassete horas)
66h (seis horas)618h (dezoito horas)
77h (sete horas)719h (dezanove horas)
88h (oito horas)820h (vinte horas)
99h (nove horas)921h (vinte e uma horas)
1010h (dez horas)1022h (vinte e duas horas)
1111h (onze horas)1123h (vinte e três horas)

Telling Time Formally vs. Informally

Formal

In formal situations, you should apply the 24-hour clock system, and use the exact minutes shown on the clock, rather than more informal expressions of subdivisions of time (as you will see below). In most situations, it’s optional whether you choose to include the words horas hours and minutos minutes

16h22São dezasseis (horas) e vinte e dois (minutos). It's 4:22pm.

Tip: Did you notice that we use the plural “são” instead of treating the hour as if it were a singular object, as in English? That happens when referring to all hours except “1”, which is treated as singular… faz sentido?

Informal

You may notice that Portuguese often apply a 12-hour system in informal contexts, but instead of saying A.M. and P.M. (which aren’t used in Portuguese-speaking countries), they’ll refer to the period of the day.

14h00São 2 da tarde. It's 2 in the afternoon.

22h00São 10 da noite. It's 10 in the evening.

Subdivisions of the hour

When you want to clarify that the time is exactly at the top of the hour, you use the expression em ponto on the dot, sharp
There are also different ways of referring to the other minutes of the hour:

English Time ExpressionPortuguese Time Expression (formal/informal)
Ten past twoCatorze e dez / Duas e dez (14h10)
Fifteen past two / Quarter past twoCatorze e quinze / Duas e um quarto (14h15)
Thirty past two / Half past twoCatorze e trinta / Duas e meia (14h30)
Twenty to threeCatorze e quarenta / Vinte para as três (14h40)
Quarter to threeCatorze e quarenta e cinco / Um quarto para as três (14h45)
Ten to threeCatorze e cinquenta / Dez para as três (14h50)

Here are some common terms you should remember from the chart above:

  • and – e (separates the hours and minutes)
  • to/until – para a (if it’s to 1A.M. or P.M. since it’s singular) or para as (if it’s to any other hour – plural)
  • half – meia
  • quarter – um quarto

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