How to Tell Time in Russian

Kremlin Clock on the Spasskaya Tower of Kremlin palace against blue sky in Moscow,Russia
Clock on the Spasskaya Tower of Kremlin palace against blue sky in Moscow, Russia. Bhornrat Chaimongkol / Getty Images

In Russian, you can use both the 12-hour and the 24-hour clock systems. The 12-hour system is common in everyday conversation, while the 24-hour system is used in formal settings, such as official documentation or news broadcasts.

Key Takeaways: Time in Russian

  • In Russian, you can use both the 12-hour and the 24-hour systems
  • Use the formula MINUTES + HOUR (ordinal number in the genitive case) when telling the time that is before the 30-minute mark.
  • Use the formula Без + MINUTES (cardinal number in genitive case) + HOUR (cardinal number in the nominative case) when telling the time that is after the 30-minute mark.

How to Ask for the Time in Russian

To ask what time it is, say сколько времени (SKOLka VREmeni) or который час (kaTOriy CHAS). Both phrases are neutral and suitable for any register, however, который час can sound a little more formal.

In everyday conversation, сколько времени is often changed to the colloquial сколько время (SKOL'ka VREmya).

Examples:

- Извините, вы не подскажете, сколько времени? (izviNEEte, vy ne patSKAzhytye, SKOLka VREmeni)
- Excuse me, could you (please) tell me what time it is?

- Маш, сколько время там? (MASH, SKOL'ka VRYEmya tam)
- Masha, what time is it?

- Простите, вы не подскажете, который час? (prasTEEtye, vy ne patSKAzhetye, kaTOriy CHAS)
- Excuse me, could you (please) tell me what time it is?

Hours and Minutes

Option 1

When telling the time, you can simply say the hour and the minutes, just as you would in English:

- два сорок (DVA SOrak)
- two-forty

This is quite an informal way to tell the time and is easy to learn as long as you know all the numbers in Russian.

Bear in mind that when it comes to 1 o'clock, you can still say the hour and the minutes but instead of один (aDEEN), meaning one, say час (CHAS), which means hour.

Example:

- час двадцать (CHAS DVATsat)
- one-twenty

You can also add the words часа (chaSA) or часов (chaSOF), both meaning hours, as well as минута (meeNOOta) or минут (meeNOOT), meaning minutes.

Examples:

- Три часа тринадцать минут (TREE chaSA pytNATsat meeNOOT)
- Three hours fifteen minutes.

- Двадцать один час и одна минута (DVATsat' aDEEN chas ee adNA meeNOOta)
- Twenty one hours and one minute.

Option 2

Another way to tell the time is to use the following markers:

If the time is at quarter past the hour, use пятнадцать минут followed by the hour (ordinal number in the genitive case). You can also say четверть followed by the hour (ordinal number in the genitive case).

Example:

- Пятнадцать минут третьего (pytNATsat miNOOT TRETyeva)
- Fifteen minutes past three (fifteen minutes of the third)

and

- Четверть первого (CHETvert PERvava)
- Quarter past one (a quarter of the first)

If the time is at half past the hour, use половина followed by the hour (ordinal number in the genitive case) or the abbreviated пол-, also followed by the hour (ordinal number in the genitive case). The abbreviated пол- becomes the beginning of the word: пол+hour (ordinal number in the genitive case).

Example:

- Половина пятого (palaVEEna PYAtava)
- Half-past four (half of the fifth)

and

- Полседьмого (polsyd'MOva)
- Half-past six (half of the seventh)

In all other cases, if the time is before the 30-minute mark, use the same rule as above, replacing the first part with the number that represents the minutes and the word минута (meeNOOta) or минут (meeNOOT): MINUTES + HOUR (ordinal number in the genitive case).

Although this sounds complicated, you will get used to it quickly once you learn the way ordinal numbers sound in the genitive case:

Ordinal Number Nominative in Russian Pronunciation Genitive Case Pronunciation
1st первый PYERviy первого PYERvava
2nd второй ftaROY второго ftaROva
3rd третий TREtiy третьего TRYET'yeva
4th четвёртый chytVYORtiy четвёртого chytVYORtava
5th пятый PYAtiy пятого PYAtava
6th шестой shysTOY шестого shysTOva
7th седьмой syd'MOY седьмого syd'MOva
8th восьмой vas'MOY восьмого vas'MOva
9th девятый dyVYAtiy девятого dyVYAtava
10th десятый dySYAtiy десятого dySYAtava
11th одиннадцатый aDEEnatsytiy одиннадцатого aDEEnatsatava
12th двенадцатый dvyNATsytiy двенадцатого dvyNATsatava

If the time is after the 30-minute mark, use the word без (BYEZ), meaning without, followed by the number of the minutes left in the hour + the hour in its neutral state.

If the time is quarter to an hour, you can use the same formula, replacing the number of the minutes with the words без четверти (bez CHETverti), meaning literally without a quarter, or quarter to.

Example:

- Без двадцати четыре (bez dvatsaTEE cheTYre)
- Twenty to four

- Без четверти шесть (bez CHETverti SHEST')
-Quarter to six (six without a quarter)

Use the table below for the genitive forms of the cardinal numbers that you will need for the minutes.

Cardinal Number Genitive Feminine Pronunciation
1 одной adNOY
2 двух dvooh
3 трёх tryoh
4 четырёх chytyRYOH
5 пяти pyTEE
6 шести shysTEE
7 семи syMEE
8 восьми vasMEE
9 девяти dyvyeTEE
10 десяти dysyeTEE
11 одиннадцати aDEEnatsutee
12 двенадцати dvyNATsutee
13 тринадцати triNATsutee
14 четырнадцати chyTYRnatsutee
15 пятнадцати pytNATsutee
16 шестнадцати shysNATsutee
17 семнадцати symNATsutee
18 восемнадцати vasymNATsutee
19 девятнадцати dyvyetNATsutee
20 двадцати dvatsuTEE

To say the numbers from 21 to 29 (minutes), use the word двадцати + the genitive form of the numbers 1 to 9 from the table.

How to Say O'Clock

When using the 24-hour system, you will need to add час (CHAS), часа (chaSAH) or часов (chaSOF), all of which mean o'clock. Alternatively, you may hear ноль ноль (nol' nol'), meaning zero zero.

Note:

Час is only used after 1 o'clock and 21 o'clock:

- один час (aDEEN CHAS)
- one o'clock

The word один can be dropped without changing the meaning when saying one o'clock:

- час ночи (CHAS NOchi)
- 1 a.m.

- час дня (CHAS DNYA)
- 1 p.m.

Часа (chaSA) is used after the numbers between 2 and 4. For numbers between 5 and 12, use часов (chaSOF).

Examples:

- Двадцать один час (DVATsat' aDEEN chas)
- Twenty-one o'clock / 9 p.m.

- Двадцать четыре часа (DVATsat' chyTYre chaSA)
- Twenty-four o'clock/midnight

- Пять часов (pyat' chaSOF)
- Five o'clock.

- Тринадцать ноль ноль (triNATsat' NOL' NOL')
- Thirteen o'clock (zero zero)

Time on the Hour

Use the following table to learn how to say the time on the hour.

Time in English Time in Russian Pronunciation Translation
12 a.m./midnight двенадцать ночи, двенадцать часов ночи, полночь dvyNATsat' NOchi, dvyNATsat chaSOF NOchi, POLnach twelve a.m., 12 o'clock, midnight
1 a.m. час ночи chas NOchi one a.m.
2 a.m. два ночи, два часа ночи, два утра, два часа утра dva NOchi, dva chaSA NOchi, dva ootRA, dva chaSA ootRA two a.m., two o'clock at night, two in the morning, two o'clock in the morning
3 a.m. три ночи, три часа ночи, три утра, три часа утра tri NOchi, tri chaSA NOchi, tri ootRA, tri chaSA ootRA three a.m., three o'clock at night, three in the morning, three o'clock in the morning
4 a.m. четыре утра, четыре часа утра chyTYre ootRA, chyTYre chaSA ootRA four in the morning, four o'clock in the morning
5 a.m. пять утра, пять часов утра PYAT' ootRA, PYAT' chaSOF ootRA five in the morning, five o'clock in the morning
a.m. шесть утра, шесть часов утра shest' ootRA, shest' chaSOF ootRA six in the morning, six o'clock in the morning
a.m. семь утра, семь часов утра syem' ootRA, syem' chaSOF ootRA seven in the morning, seven o'clock in the morning
a.m. восемь утра, восемь часов утра VOsyem' ootRA, VOsyem' chaSOF ootRA eight in the morning/a.m., eight o'clock in the morning
a.m. девять утра, девять часов утра DYEvat' ootRA, DYEvat' chaSOF ootRA nine in the morning/a.m., nine o'clock in the morning
10 a.m.  десять утра, десять часов утра DYEsyat' ootRA, DYEsyat' chaSOF ootRA ten in the morning/a.m., ten o'clock in the morning
11 a.m. одиннадцать утра, одиннадцать часов утра aDEEnatsat' ootRA, aDEEnatsat' chaSOF ootRA eleven in the morning/a.m., eleven o'clock in the morning
12 p.m. двенадцать дня, двенадцать часов дня, полдень dvyNATsat' DNYA, dvyNATsat' chaSOF dnya, POLden' twelve p.m., twelve o'clock (daytime), midday
1 p.m. час, час дня chas, chas dnya one p.m.
2 p.m. два часа дня dva chaSA dnya two p.m., two in the afternoon
3 p.m. три часа дня tree chaSA dnya three p.m., three in the afternoon
4 p.m. четыре вечера, четыре часа вечера chyTYre VYEchera, chyTYre chaSA VYEchera four p.m., four in the evening/afternoon
5 p.m. пять вечера, пять часов вечера pyat VYEchera, pyat chaSOF VYEchera five p.m., five o'clock in the afternoon
6 p.m. шесть вечера, шесть часов вечера shest' VYEchera, shest' chaSOF VYEchera six p.m., six o'clock in the evening
7 p.m. семь вечера, семь часов вечера syem' VYEchera, syem' chaSOF VYEchera seven p.m., seven o'clock in the evening
8 p.m. восемь вечера, восемь часов вечера VOsyem' VYEchera, VOsyem' chaSOF VYEchera eight p.m., eight o'clock in the evening
9 p.m. девять вечера, девять часов вечера DYEvyt' VYEchera, DYEvyt' chaSOF VYEchera nine p.m., nine o'clock in the evening
10 p.m. десять вечера, десять часов вечера DYEsyt' VYEchera, DYEsyt' chaSOF VEchera ten p.m., ten o'clock in the evening
11 p.m. одиннадцать вечера, одиннадцать часов вечера, одиннадцать ночи, одиннадцать часов ночи aDEEnatsat' VYEchera, aDEEnatsat' chaSOF VYEchera, aDEEnatsat' NOchi, aDEEnatsat' chaSOF NOchi eleven p.m., eleven o'clock in the evening, eleven at night, eleven o'clock at night