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Time expression in Russian

To say time in Russian correctly, you should learn some numerals in the nominative case and ordinal numerals in the genitive case or review information, if you have already known them. Here they are:
  1. один — первого [adin – pervava]
  2. два — второго [dva – ftarova]
  3. три — третьего [tri – tret'yeva]
  4. четыре — четвертого [chityre – chitvyortava]
  5. пять — пятого [pyat' – pyatava]
  6. шесть — шестого [shest' – shistova]
  7. семь — седьмого [sem' – sid'mova]
  8. восемь — восьмого [vosem' – vas'mova]
  9. девять — девятого [devyat' – divyatova]
  10. десять — десятого [desyat' – disaytova]
  11. одиннадцать — одиннадцатого [adinatsat' – adinatsatava]
  12. двенадцать — двенадцатого [dvenatsat' – dvinatsatava]
It is also useful to know, how to call the units for time measurement and the time of day. Some words are consonant with English ones:

second - секунда [sikunda]
minute - минута [minuta]
hour - час [chas]
quarter - четверть часа [chetvert' chasa]
morning - утро [utra]
evening - вечер [vecher]
afternoon, daytime - день [den']
night - ночь [noch]
midday - полдень [polden']
midnight - полночь [polnoch]
24 hours of a day - сутки [sutki]

The exact time in the Russian language is denoted with the form "numeral + noun "час"". The form of this word depends on a numeral. Pay your attention to the ending of the word "час" (they are marked with a black type):

one o'clock - один час [adin chas]
two o'clock - два часа [dva chasa]
three o'clock - три часа [tri chasa]
four o'clock - четыре часа [chityri chasa]
five o'clock - пять часов [pyat' chasov]
six o'clock - шесть часов [shest' chasov]
seven o'clock - семь часов [sem' chasov]
eight o'clock - восемь часов [vosem' chasov]
nine o'clock - девять часов [devyat' chasov]
ten o'clock - десять часов [desyat' chasov]
eleven o'clock - одиннадцать часов [adinatsat' chasov]
twelve o'clock - двенадцать часов [dvinatsat' chasov]

How to remember them all?

The form of a noun depends on gender of a numeral. As the word "час" is masculine gender, so the rule of declension will be as follows:

1 час – nominative case, singular;
2, 3, 4 часа – genitive case, singular;
5-12 часов – genitive case, plural.

If you don't want to mix up endings, you need to do exercises on declension. More practice – less mistakes.

Try with other nouns of masculine gender:

1 - один кот [adin kot]
2 - два кота [dva kata]
3 - три кота [tri kata]
4 - четыре кота [chityri kata]
5 - пять котов [pyat' katov]
6 - шесть котов [shest' katov]

When we say exact time, sometimes we add the word "ровно" [rovna].

— Который час? (What time is it?)
— Два часа ровно. (Two o'clock sharp).

You should not necessarily use the word "ровно", but it will indicate that the watch shows 02:00 a.m. or 02:00 p.m. and not a minute more.

How to say time, if there is less than a half an hour left before the beginning of next hour? It is very simple. In this case, we use the form ""без" + numeral in the genitive case + numeral in the nominative case".

ten to three - без десяти три [bes disyati tri]
quarter to three - без четверти три or без пятнадцати три [bes chetvirty tri] or [bes pitnatsati tri]
twenty to three - без двадцати три [bes dvatsati tri]
half past two - половина третьего or полтретьего [palavina tret'yeva] or [poltret'yeva]

To understand better, let's analyze each part of the phrase "без двадцати три":
Без (like to) – this preposition denotes the rest of time before the hour that is going just about to happen.
двадцати – numeral in the genitive case.
три – numeral in the nominative case.

You can also use the phrase "без двадцати минут три". The word "минут"is optional, because you can already understand that one talks about 20 minutes.
If we speak about 15 minutes, you can say as "без пятнадцати", as "без четверти".

"Полтретьего" and "половина третьего" (half past two) – are the same. "Полтретьего" is a short form. Practice to say different time in this form: полпервого [polpervava], полвторого [polftarova], полтретьего [poltret'yeva], полчетвертого [polchetvyortava], полпятого [polpyatava], полшестого [polshestova], полседьмого [polsed'mova], полвосьмого [polvas'mova]...Use the prefix "пол-" and add a numeral from the table in the beginning of this lesson.
Such simple form you will hear more often in spoken language.

How to say time, if there is less than a half past an hour?
ten past two - десять минут третьего [desyat' minut tret'yeva]
quarter past two - четверть третьего [chetvert' tret'yeva] or пятнадцать минут третьего [pitnatsat' minut tret'yeva]

There are no prepositions. We just change the cases. As you can see, we use a numeral denoting minutes in the nominative case (десять) and an ordinal numeral denoting hour in the genitive one (третьего).

When does morning begin for Russians? And evening? Like all over the world, it depends on a person. But for the majority the situation is following:

00:00/12PM/midnight двенадцать часов ночи/полночь
01:00/1AM час ночи
02:00/2AM два часа ночи
03:00/3AM три часа ночи
04:00/4AM четыре часа утра
05:00/5AM пять часов утра
06:00/6AM шесть часов утра
07:00/7AM семь часов утра
08:00/8AM восемь часов утра
09:00/9AM девять часов утра
10:00/10AM десять часов утра
11:00/11AM одиннадцать часов утра
12:00/12PM/midday двенадцать часов/полдень
13:00/1PM час дня
14:00/2PM два часа дня
15:00/3PM три часа дня
16:00/4PM четыре часа дня
17:00/5PM пять часов вечера
18:00/6PM шесть часов вечера
19:00/7PM семь часов вечера
20:00/8PM восемь часов вечера
21:00/9PM девять часов вечера
22:00/10PM десять часов вечера
23:00/11PM одиннадцать часов вечера

Of course, the time 03:00 (3 AM) can be nighttime for one person and morning- for another. A person who gets out of bed and starts a day early, is called "жаворонок" [zhavaranak] (morning lark or morning bird). A person who likes sleeping in, is called "сова" [sava] (night owl).

Is it necessary to specify the time of day when we are talking about time?

Most often people say just: "одиннадцать часов". If both – you and your interlocutor – understand the context, it is not necessary to specify the time of day. When you say: "Я завтракаю в одиннадцать часов" (I have a breakfast at 11), it is clear that you are talking about morning. But if you want to make an appointment and offer: "Давай встретимся в девять" (Let's meet at 9), it is better to specify: "Давай встретимся в девять вечера" (Let's meet at 9PM).

As you can see, there is no the word "часов" in last sentence. Usually people omit the words "минут" and "часов".

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