How to say and write the time and date in perfect English

Mit Hilfe von Let´s talk Business English - Dem Spezial-Fernkurs für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen gibt es ab sofort keine Irritationen mehr, wenn Sie für Ihren Chef ein Hotelzimmer im Ausland buchen oder mit ausländischen Geschäftspartnern Termine abstimmen müssen. Beachten Sie einfach die folgenden Regeln.

If you have to make a hotel reservation or give information on the phone you are required to say dates and times.

Here are the general rules:

Use "on" + date        "We left London on 2 August."
Use "at" + time         "He left London at 3 pm."

Saying the time

  • The twenty-four hour clock is not usually used.
  • You can say pm (or p.m.) for all appointments after 12 noon (midday) an before midnight and am (or a.m.) for all appointments after midnight and before 12 noon.
  • People often leave out the am ans pm as it is clear from the context whether they mean 3 am or 3 pm.
  • The meeting will beginn at 3:30.
  • The conference will end at 7:30.

In Britain, half nine means half past nine, half ten means half past ten, etc. Americans say nine-thirty, ten-thirty, etc. Always check that you have understood correctly.

Fifteen minutes before the hour is         (a) quarter to
Fifteen minutes after the hour is (a) quarter past 
Ten minutes before the hour is ten to 
Ten minutes after the hour is  ten past 
Five minutes before the hour is five to 
Five minutes after the hour is  five past

For all other times, you say minutes past or minutes to. Four minutes past four. Eight minutes to ten, etc.

Saying and writing the date

When you say the date, use ‚st´ after 1 (May the first, twenty-first, thirty-first), ‚nd´ after 2 (June the second, twenty-second, etc.), ‚rd´ after 3 (August the third, twenty-third) and ‚th´ after 4-20 (fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirtheenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth).
In American English, you can also say May twenty-one, June twenty-two, July twenty-three, etc.

Writing the date

When you write the date in British English, the day comes before the month - the same as in German. So 8/7/20.. is the eighth day of July.

In American English, the month comes before the day, so 8/7/20.. is the seventh day of August.

To be on the safe side, we recommend writing the date out in full 8 July 20.., 7 August 20..