So, is it true that French people always arrive late to a meeting?
Well... sort of. The French would normally arrive on time to an official meeting (like at the office or at the dentist), with 10 to 15 min late to a dinner or a party (never arrive on time at a French party, the hosts usually expect people to be at least 10 min late), and sometimes up to 30 min to a meeting with friends (but that's also annoying to the person waiting)!
Wow, really?
Actually, that's a good transition to today's lesson on the time!
Quelle heure est-il ?
What time is it?
Il est...
It is...
Did you know that French people read the time using the 24h clock (0h → 24h)?
Ugh, yes. They like to make everything more complicated.
Ha ha ha.
0h / minuit (middle of the night)
1am → 11am
1h (du matin) → 11h (du matin)
12h / midi (middle of the day)
13h / 1h (de l'après-midi)
14h / 2h (de l'après-midi)
15h / 3h (de l'après-midi)
16h / 4h (de l'après-midi)
17h / 5h (de l'après-midi)
18h / 6h (de l'après-midi)
19h / 7h (du soir)
20h / 8h (du soir)
21h / 9h (du soir)
22h / 10h (du soir)
23h / 11h (du soir)
24h / minuit (middle of the night)
Unlike in the US or the UK, the French consider 0h (12am) and 24h (12am) to always be in the middle of the night! Therefore, if you give a meeting to a friend at midnight on the 31st of January, it'll mean between the 31st and the 1st and NOT between the 30th and the 31st!
Okay that helps. But do I also have to say the things in brackets?
Sometimes, yes. If you don't want the person to get confuse on whether it's morning or afternoon:
Il est 8h. Il est 8h du matin.
→ It is 8 am.
Il est 8h. Il est 8h du soir. Il est 20h.
→ It is 8pm.
It's getting confusing - technically "il est 8h" can mean both morning and evening?
Oui ! So be careful if the other person isn't in the same location/time zone. Or if you're setting a time to meet someone. Like in English a sentence like "let's meet at 8" doesn't help knowing if it's morning or afternoon.
Indeed. What about the minutes?
8:01 → 8:59
8h01 (huit heures une) 8h59 (huit heures cinquante-neuf)
8h15 (huit heures quinze) 8h15 (huit heures et quart)
8h30 (huit heures trente) 8h30 (huit heures et demie)
8h45 (huit heures quarante-cinq) 8h45 (neuf heures moins le quart)
Uh oh! What is all this?
That's how to read the minutes of course!
French is getting all complicated again :(
If you think about it, it's very similar to English.
Il est 8h15.
It is 8:15.
Il est 8h et quart (8h15).
It is quarter past 8. It is 15 past 8.
Il est 8h45.
It is 8:45.
Il est neuf heures moins le quart (8h45).
It is quarter to 9.
Alright, I guess you're right. English and French are just as complicated to read the time.
Attention ! "et quart", "et demie" and "moins le quart" are only used between 0h and 11h, never with 12h to 24h !
Il est vingt-heures trente.
Il est vingt-heures et demie.