Do you know what time it is? It’s Howdy Doody Japanese time!
Telling the time in Japanese isn’t too difficult, but it takes some practice. Before you continue with this lesson, you will need to know the basics of counting in Japanese. Don't know numbers or how to count? No problem, learn how to count in Japanese here.
Hour number + 時 ji + Minutes number + 分 fun (minute):
時間 jikan time
午後 gogo afternoon; P.M.
午前 gozen morning; A.M.
前 mae before
半 han half
But... there are two slight hang-ups:
- The 分 (minute) sound changes with some numbers, and
- Some numbers also have sound changes
I highly recommend spending a few minutes studying the chart below. Repetition spaced over time leads to stronger memorization. Come back to this chart tomorrow and repeat from one minute to eleven again.
happun or hachifun
* irregular pronunciations
- Number sounds
- 分 (minute) sounds
If you look at the lines above with a *, you'll see the number sound is changed in 1, 6, 8 (sometimes) and 10. Otherwise, you just say the number as you would normally. Observe:
|Normal Number Sound:||Changed Number Sound:|
|一 ichi (1)|
六 roku (6)
八 hachi (8)
十 juu (10)
|一分 ippun (1 minute)|
六分 roppun (6 minutes)
八分 happun (8 minutes) [or often はちふん hachifun]
十分 juppun (10 minutes) [or じっぷん jippun (this is mostly heard in news broadcasts]
Next, notice how the 分 "fun" (the minute marker) changes. This may vary by region or dialect, but in standard Japanese, these numbers are affected: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10
|Affected Numbers: |
|#1) 一分 ippun (1 minute)|
#3) 三分 san pun (3 minutes)
#4) 四分 yon pun (4 minutes)
#6) 六分 roppun (6 minutes)
#8) 八分 happun (or often はちふん) (8 minutes)
#10) 十分 juppun (10 minutes)
Again, please spend time reviewing and repeating the numbers in the blue box. Eventually, you'll have these memorized and you won't think twice about which sound to use.
How to say Minutes in Japanese:
Here are a few time examples. Can you understand how they are constructed?
Refer to the charts above and to the right to understand how these are constructed.
rokuji sanjuu ippun
午後 六時 四十五分
gogo rokuji yonjuugo fun
15 ’til 7
七時 十五分 前
shichiji juugo fun mae
Some things to keep in mind:
- Unlike in English, the AM and PM (gozen and gogo) are said before the number.
- Numbers after ten follow the same pattern as 1-10. For example 21 minutes is "ni juu ippun" [That's, nijuuichi for 21, but the "ichi" changes sounds before the "pun": nijuuippun]
- 前 mae (before) is used to mean, "(some number of minutes) before (the hour)"; it comes after the time
- 半 han (half) is used for the half hour; it comes after the hour
Did you get how those examples were constructed? If not, leave us a comment with any questions.