Chinese Grammar: Dates and time in Chinese
Let's learn to talk about dates and times in Chinese.
Lupishu hasn't seen the time fly by since he's arrived in Ninchana, but now that he's learning how to tell time and talk about dates, he's intent on keeping track. Let's start by talking about days of the week and months in Chinese.
Words to know to talk about dates
Now that you've learned to count, you're nearly ready to talk about dates!
Armed with that, you're ready to talk about dates in Chinese!
Numbers, not names
It's important to know that months and days of the week do not have names in Chinese. They are numbered instead.
Months in Chinese
The year 2000 in Chinese is 2000 年.
Weeks in Chinese
From big to small
When talking about dates and times, a rule of thumb in Chinese is to always go from the most general (big) to the most specific (small). In English, it’s the opposite!
When Chinese talk about dates, they start with the most general information: the year, and work their way down: month, then day. So dates are written in this format: 2000.06.12.
To write the date in Chinese, you just need to add the Chinese words for the year, month, and day in between dates, always starting with the date, like so: 2000 年 06 月 12 日. Remember, numbers are placed before 年, 月, 日 but after 星期.
Dates are also commonly written like this:
Numbers or Chinese characters for numbers?
When talking about dates in Chinese, you can use either numbers or Chinese characters for numbers. Both are used.
Telling The Time
Like with dates, to organize how you talk about time, start with the larger element, here the period of the day. Going from largest to smallest is something you'll often find yourself doing in Mandarin.
So, to talk about a given time, start with:
To say 8:42 am, for instance, you'll start with the largest information (the fact it's the morning) and then indicate the hour and minutes.
Here's more useful vocabulary to talk about time:
+ 早上: early morning
+ 上午: morning
+ 中午: noon
+ 下午: afternoon
+ 晚上: evening
+ 夜里: night
+ 点 (short for 点钟): hour
+ 分 (short for 分钟): minutes
+ 刻: quarter of an hour
+ 半: half an hour
+ 差: here minus; to, as in 差 十 分 两 点: Ten to 2.
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