Date and Time Vocabulary in German

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Do you know what time it is? How about the date? If you are in a German-speaking country, you will want to know how to ask and answer those questions in German. There are some tricks, so first review how to tell time in German. Now let's explore terms for ​the clock, calendar, seasons, weeks, days, dates, and other time-related vocabulary.

Dates and Time in German

Noun genders: r (der, masc.), e (die, fem.), s (das, neu.)
Abbreviations: adj. (adjective), adv. (adverb), n. (noun), pl. (plural), v. (verb)

A

after, past (prep., with time.) nach
after ten o'clock nach zehn Uhr
quarter past five viertel nach fünf
five past ten fünf nach zehn

afternoon (n.) r Nachmittag
afternoons, in the afternoon nachmittags, am Nachmittag

ago vor
two hours ago vor zwei Stunden
ten years ago vor zehn Jahren

AM, a.m. morgens, vormittags
Note: German schedules and timetables use 24-hour time rather than AM or PM.

annual(ly) (adj./adv.) jährlich (YEHR-lich)

The word jährlich is based on das Jahr (year), the root word for many similar words in German, including das Jahrhundert (century) and das Jahrzehnt (decade).

April (der) April
in April im April
(See all of the months below, under "month.")

around (prep., with time) gegen
around ten o'clock gegen zehn Uhr

at (prep., with time) um
at ten o'clock um zehn Uhr

autumn, fall r Herbst
in (the) autumn/fall im Herbst

B

balance wheel (clock) (n.) e Unruh, s Drehpendel

before (adv., prep.) (be)vor, vorher, zuvor
the day before yesterday vorgestern
before ten o'clock (be)vor zehn Uhr
years before Jahre früher

Because the English word "before" can have so many meanings in German, it is wise to learn the appropriate phrases or idioms. Part of the problem is that the word (in both languages) can function as an adverb, an adjective, or a preposition, AND can be used to express both time (previous to, earlier) and location (in front of). In clock time vor is used to mean before or to, as in "ten to four" = zehn vor vier.

behind (prep., time) hinter (dative)
That's behind me now. Das ist jetzt hinter mir.

behind (n., time) r Rückstand
(be) behind schedule/time im Rückstand (sein)
weeks behind Wochen im Rückstand

C

calendar (n.) r Kalender

Both the English word calendar and German Kalender come from the Latin word kalendae (calends, "the day when accounts are due") or the first day of the month. Roman dates were expressed in "kalendae," nonae" (nones), and "idus" (ides), the 1st, 5th, and 13th days of a month (the 15th day in the months of March, May, July, and October) respectively. The names for the months of the year came into English, German and most of the Western languages via Greek and Latin.

Central European Daylight Saving Time Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit (MESZ) (GMT + 2 hours, from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October)

Central European Time Mitteleuropäische Zeit (MEZ) (GMT + 1 hour)

chronometer s Chronometer

clock, watch e Uhr

The word for clock/watch—Uhr—came to German via French heure from Latin hora (time, hour). That same Latin word gave English the word "hour." Sometimes German uses the abbreviation "h" for Uhr or "hour," as in "5h25" (5:25) or "km/h" ( Stundenkilometer, km per hour).

clock face, dial s Zifferblatt

clockwork s Räderwerk, s Uhrwerk

count (v.) zählen (TSAY-len)

CAUTION! Do not confuse zählen with zahlen (to pay)!

day(s) r Tag (die Tage)

day after tomorrow (adv.) übermorgen

day before yesterday (adv.) vorgestern

day by day, from day to day (adv.) von Tag zu Tag

daylight saving time e Sommerzeit
standard time (n.) e Standardzeit, e Winterzeit

Germany first introduced Sommerzeit during the war years. MESZ (Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit, Central European DST) was reintroduced in 1980. In coordination with other European countries, Germany uses MESZ from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.

dial (clock, watch) s Zifferblatt, e Zifferanzeige (digital display)

digital (adj.) digital (DIG-ee-tal)
digital display e Zifferanzeige, s Display

E

escapement (clock) e Hemmung

escapement wheel (clock) s Hemmrad

eternal(ly) (adj./adv.) ewig

eternity e Ewigkeit

evening r Abend
evenings, in the evening abends, am Abend

F

fall, autumn r Herbst
in the fall/autumn im Herbst

fast (clock, watch) (adv.) vor
My watch is running fast. Meine Uhr geht vor.

first (adj.) erst-
the first car das erste Auto
the first day der erste Tag
the first door die erste Tür

See German Numbers for an English-German guide to ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd...) and cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, 4...).

fortnight, two weeks vierzehn Tage (14 days)
in a fortnight/two weeks in vierzehn Tagen

fourth (adj.) viert-
the fourth car das vierte Auto
the fourth day der vierte Tag
the fourth floor die vierte Etage

Friday r Freitag
(on) Fridays freitags

Note that all of the German days of the week are masculine (der). The days of the German week (which starts with Monday) fall in this sequence: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag (Sonnabend), Sonntag.

G

GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) (n.) e Greenwichzeit (GMT) (Also see UTC)

grandfather clock, longcase clock (n.) e Standuhr

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (n.) e Greenwichzeit (time at the prime meridian)

H

h (abbreviation) e Stunde (hour)

Latin hora (time, hour) gave English the word "hour" and German the word for "clock" ( Uhr). Sometimes German uses the abbreviation "h" for Uhr or "hour," as in "5h25" (5:25) or "km/h" (Stundenkilometer, km per hour).

half (adj./adv.) halb
half past one (five, eight, etc.) halb zwei (sechs, neun, usw.)

hand (clock) r Zeiger (see hour hand, second hand, etc.)
big hand großer Zeiger
little hand kleiner Zeiger

hour e Stunde
every hour jede Stunde
every two/three hours alle zwei/drei Stunden

GENDER TIP: Note that all of the German nouns having to do with clock time are feminine (​die): e Uhr, e Stunde, e Minute, usw.

hour glass, sand glass e Sanduhr, s Stundenglas

hour hand r Stundenzeiger, r kleine Zeiger (little hand)

hourly (adv.) stündlich, jede Stunde

I

infinite (adj.) unendlich, endlos

infinity (n.) e Unendlichkeit

L

last, previous (adv.) letzt, vorig
last week letzte Woche, vorige Woche
last weekend letztes Wochenende

late spät
be late Verspätung haben

M

minute (n.) e Minute (meh-NOOH-ta)

minute hand r Minutenzeiger, r große Zeiger

Monday r Montag
(on) Mondays montags

Montag, like English "Monday," is named for the moon (der Mond), i.e., "moon-day." On German (European) calendars, the week begins with Montag, not Sonntag (the last day of the week): Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag (Sonnabend), Sonntag. This has the benefit of putting the two weekend days together rather than separated, as on Anglo-American calendars.

month(s) r Monat (die Monate)

Months in German: (all der) Januar, Februar, März, April, Mai, Juni, Juli, August, September, Oktober, November, Dezember.

morning r Morgen, r Vormittag
this morning heute Morgen
tomorrow morning morgen früh, morgen Vormittag
yesterday morning gestern früh, gestern Vormittag

N

next (adv.) nächst
next week nächste Woche
next weekend nächstes Wochenende

night(s) e Nacht (Nächte)
at night nachts, in der Nacht
by night bei Nacht

number(s) e Zahl (Zahlen), e Ziffer(n) (on clock face), e Nummer(n)

O

oversleep sich verschlafen

P

past, after (clock time) nach
quarter past five viertel nach fünf
five past ten fünf nach zehn

pendulum s Pendel

pendulum clock e Pendeluhr

PM abends, nachmittags

Note: German schedules and timetables use 24-hour time rather than AM or PM.

pocket watch e Taschenuhr

Q

quarter (one fourth) (n., adv.) s Viertel
quarter to/past viertel vor/nach
quarter past five viertel sechs

S

sand glass, hour glass s Stundenglas, e Sanduhr

Saturday r Samstag, r Sonnabend
(on) Saturdays samstags, sonnabends

season (of yeare Jahreszeit
the four seasons die vier Jahreszeiten

second (n.) e Sekunde (say-KOON-da)

second (adj.) zweit-
second-largest zweitgrößte
the second car das zweite Auto
the second door die zweite Tür

second hand r Sekundenzeiger

slow (clock, watch) (adv.) nach
My watch is running slow. Meine Uhr geht nach.

spring (n.) e Feder, e Zugfeder

spring (seasonr Frühling, s Frühjahr
in (the) spring im Frühling/Frühjahr

spring balance e Federwaage

standard time e Standardzeit, e Winterzeit
daylight saving time (n.) e Sommerzeit

summer r Sommer
in (the) summer im Sommer

Sunday r Sonntag
(on) Sundays sonntags

sun dial e Sonnenuhr

T

third (adj.) dritt-
third-largest drittgrößte
the third car das dritte Auto
the third door die dritte Tür

time e Zeit (pron. TSYTE)

time clock e Stempeluhr

time zone e Zeitzone

The world's official 24 time zones were created in October 1884 (1893 in Prussia) by an international conference in Washington, D.C. in response to the needs of railroads, shipping companies, and increasing international travel. Each hour's zone is 15 degrees in width (15 Längengraden) with Greenwich as the prime (zero) meridian (Nullmeridian) and the International Date line at 180º. In practice, most time zone boundaries are adjusted to conform to various political and geographic considerations. There are even some half-hour time zones.

Thursday r Donnerstag
(on) Thursdays donnerstags

today (adv.) heute
today's newspaper die heutige Zeitung, die Zeitung von heute
a week/month from today heute in einer Woche/einem Monat

tomorrow (adv.) morgen (not capitalized)
tomorrow afternoon morgen Nachmittag
tomorrow evening morgen Abend
tomorrow morning morgen früh, morgen Vormittag
tomorrow night morgen Nacht
a week/month/year ago tomorrow morgen vor einer Woche/einem Monat/einem Jahr

Tuesday r Dienstag
(on) Tuesdays dienstags

U

UTC UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, Universel Temps Coordonné) - Also see GMT.)

UTC was introduced in 1964 and is headquartered at the Paris Observatory (but calculated from the prime meridian at Greenwich). Since 1972 UTC has been based on atomic clocks. A UTC radio time signal (Zeitzeichen) is broadcast around the world. UTC is coordinated with solar time (UT1). Because of irregularities in the earth's rotation, a leap second must be introduced from time to time in December or June. 

W

watch, clock e Uhr, e Armbanduhr (wristwatch)

Wednesday r Mittwoch
(on) Wednesdays mittwochs
Ash Wednesday
 Aschermittwoch

week(s) e Woche (die Wochen)
a week ago vor einer Woche
for a week (für) eine Woche
in a week in einer Woche
two weeks, fortnight (n.) vierzehn Tage (14 days)
in two weeks/a fortnight in vierzehn Tagen
this/next/last week diese/nächste/vorige Woche
days of the week die Tage der Woche

Days of the Week with Abbreviations: Montag (Mo), Dienstag (Di), Mittwoch (Mi), Donnerstag (Do), Freitag (Fr), Samstag (Sa), Sonntag (So).

weekday (Mon.-Fri.) r Wochentag, r Werktag (Mo-Fr)
(on) weekdays wochentags, werktags

weekend s Wochenende
a long weekend ein verlängertes Wochenende
at/on the weekend am Wochenende
at/on weekends an Wochenenden
for/over the weekend übers Wochenende

weekly (adj./adv.) wöchentlich, Wochen- (prefix)
weekly newspaper Wochenzeitung

winter r Winter
in (the) winter im Winter

wristwatch e Armbanduhr

Y

year(s) s Jahr (YAHR) (e Jahre)
for years seit Jahren
in the year 2006 im Jahr(e) 2006

yesterday (adv.) gestern