How to tell and write the time in Italian with examples and exercises

time in Italian

One of the most important and difficult topics while approaching a new foreign language is certainly how to tell and write the time. It is also a very useful thing to know since you could always find yourself in a situation where you might be telling time in Italian. In this case, you should try to be as precise as possible, so that you could be properly understood. So here is a list of tips and tricks to learn how to tell and write the time in Italian, using the Italian time zone.


First of all, you should learn how to properly ask and answer back, whenever someone asks you the time in Italian. In this case, you might hear these questions:

  • Che ora è or che ore sono?   –   What time is it?
  • Saprebbe dirmi che ora è?   –   Could you tell me what time it is?
  • Scusi, mi può dire che ore sono?   –   Excuse me, could you tell me what time it is?

Generally, you could answer these questions in this way:

  • Sono le ore (sette) or just Le (sette)   –   It’s (seven) o’clock
  • Mancano 15 minuti alle nove   –   which literally translates as “It’s missing 15 minutes to nine”, but you can translate it simply as “It’s a quarter to nine”
  • L’orologio segna le (undici)   –   which literally translates as “The clock says that it’s eleven”, but you can translate it simply as “It’s eleven”

In order to answer these questions, you should know some words related to time, such as the measure units:

  • Ore (Hour)
  • Minuti (Minutes)
  • Secondi (Seconds)
  • Mezz’ora (Half an hour)
  • Un quarto d’ora (A quarter)
  • Mattina (Morning)
  • Pomeriggio (Afternoon)
  • Sera (Evening)
  • Notte (Night)

Italy time zone


First of all is important for you to know that the Italy time zone is Central European Time and it can change if there’s summer or winter.

When you want to know or to tell what time it is, the basic thing you should know is how to say the numbers in Italian, since they are the most important part of the sentence. 

As it was mentioned before, the sentence that you should say when you are required to tell the time in Italian, it’s the following one:

Sono le ore …   


In particular, when you tell the time in Italian, you always write the hours first, followed by the conjunction “e” (and), and then the minutes. You should also use, at the end of the sentence, a clarification, to specify in which part of the day it is.

Ex.              Sono le cinque e venticinque della mattina

                   It’s twenty-five past five in the morning/AM

                    Sono le tre e quaranta del pomeriggio

                  It’s twenty past four in the afternoon/PM

There are also some time expressions, that you could use. For example, if you want to say ‘and a half’, you could use the expression ‘…. e mezza’, instead of the minutes. 

If you want to say ‘a quarter’, you could also say ‘……e un quarto’, at the end, instead of the minutes.


If you are telling the time to someone and the minutes are in the second half of the clock, you have two possibilities. 

Ex. It’s 9:40 – It’s twenty to ten

  • In Italian you can say the exact amount of time in hours and minutes:

Sono le nove e quaranta (literally: it’s nine and forty)

  • Or you can say:

             Sono le dieci meno venti (literally: it’s ten minus twenty)

You should also know that there are two different ways to tell and write the time in Italian:

  • A formal one – in this case, you tell the time following the 24 hours of the clock.

Ex.           Sono le quindici e trenta   

                It’s half past three in the afternoon

  • An informal one – in this case you tell the time following the quadrant of the clock. So, you can only say the numbers from 1 to 12. In order to complete the sentence, you will have to specify which part of the day it is. This construct is similar to the English version of AM and PM, but in Italian, instead, they highlight the part of the day, such as ‘in the morning, in the night, etc.’

Ex.          Sono le tre e un quarto del pomeriggio 

                It’s a quarter past three in the afternoon/PM

               Sono le dieci e venti del mattino

                It’s twenty past ten in the morning/AM

                Sono le due di notte

                It’s two o’clock at night/AM

DigitalWordingAlternative way
7:00Sono le setteSono le sette in punto
7:05Sono le sette e cinque
7:15Sono le sette e un quartoSono le sette e quindici
7:30Sono le sette e mezzaSono le sette e trenta
7:35Sono le sette e trentacinqueMancano venticinque minuti alle otto
7:45Sono le sette e quarantacinqueSono le otto meno un quarto


Even though it may seem difficult at first glance, you just need to practice a bit and, after a while, you will be able to tell and write the time in Italian, almost like a native Italian speaking.

If you would like to dig deeper into this subject, you can book a lesson with us, our teachers are native speakers and are open to help you to acquire the Italian language as fast as possible. You can read more about this here.

Now that you know everything about the time in Italian, discover how to Easily Communicate Numbers 1 to 100 in Italian!


How can you say "What time is it" in Italian?

Can you write the time in Italian? 5:40 PM

How can you write 10:30 AM in Italian?

Can you write the time in Italian? 9:19 PM

Sono le due del pomeriggio. 

Sono le sette e quaranta della mattina. 

Mancano 15 minuti alle quattro.

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