Beginner 1 > Lesson 17
Lesson 17. Time in Korean
Pure Korean number is used for telling hour–unit time like 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 2 hours, 3 hours etc.
Pure Korean Numbers are also used for counting items, books, people, and age, combined with the appropriate counter words.
On the other hand, Sino Korean number is used for telling minute–unit time, like 30 minutes, one thirty (1:30) etc.
It is also used while measuring length, height, and weight, again with the appropriate counter words.
- Time on the Clock [시 (o’clock) / 분 (minute)]
Like we discussed before, while telling time, you use pure Korean Numbers.
For example, 한 시 means 1 o’clock, and 한 is the pure number and 시 is time marking particle.)
Now when pure Korean Numbers from 1-4 (하나, 둘, 셋, and 넷) are used with counter words, they get changed like this :
하나 – 한
둘 – 두
셋 – 세
넷 – 네
Therefore, you can say :
한 시 – 1 o’clock
두 시 – 2 o’clock
세 시 – 3 o’clock
네 시 – 4 o’clock
For 5-10 (다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, 열), they remain the same and they don’t change their form.
다섯 시 – 5 o’clock
여섯 시 – 6 o’clock
일곱 시 – 7 o’clock
여덟 시 – 8 o’clock
아홉 시 – 9 o’clock
열 시 – 10 o’clock
But for 11 o’clock and 12 o’clock it again works like before :
열 한 시 not 열하나 시
열 두 시 not 열둘 시
Now, let’s move on to minute-unit time marker, 분.
How do you say 2:10 o’clock in Korean?
First we need to remember that while Pure Korean Numbers were used to tell the hour-unit time, Sino Korean Numbers are used for marking minute-unit time.
2:10 is 두 시 십 분.
5:30 is 다섯 시 삼십 분 (=다섯 시 반)
There is another way to say 30 mins in Korean, which is 반.
반(半) means half, and it’s interchangeable with 삼십 분.
Also make sure to remember that we cannot say 반 분. you can just say “반,” without attaching any time-counters.
3:15 is 세 시 십오 분
4:20 is 네 시 이십 분
12:55 is 열 두 시 오십오 분
11:50 is 열 한 시 오십 분
You can also use 오전 & 오후 to tell whether it’s AM or PM,
To break this word “오전” down, so that you remember this word effectively, 오 comes from the word “정오” which means “noon” and 전 is a word that means “before.” So it’s literally “beforenoon,” thus AM time.
Also 후 is the word means after, so 오후 would be afternoon that is PM.
오전 & 오후 are placed before the time, unlike English where AM and PM are placed after the time.
11am = 오전 열 한 시
7 pm = 오후 일곱 시
7:30 pm = 오후 일곱 시 반 or 오후 일곱 시 삼십 분
- Duration (시간: hours / 분: minutes)
When you tell the time duration, the counter you use is 시간. 시간 means “time,” but it is also a measure word for marking how many hours.
And it works the same way we learned, telling the time itself: Pure Numbers for time duration (hours), Sino Numbers for minute duration. So if you want to say one hour, you say 한 시간 not 한 시. 한 시 would mean 1o’clock (time on the clock).
2 hours 두 시간
3 hours 세 시간
4 hours 네 시간
It’s good to note that when what you are counting is below 20 (including hours), we use pure Korean Numbers, and if it’s over 20, we can use both Pure & Sino Korean Numbers (both are acceptable.)
But for over 100, there is no pure Korean numbers for it, so you can use Sino Korean Numbers.
For minutes duration, we use the same 분. Like we learned, for minutes, we use Sino Korean Numbers. So,
1 minute is 일 분
10 minutes is 십 분
30 minutes is 삼십 분
30 minutes alone of time duration cannot be interchangeably used with “반.” But, 반 can be interchangeable when 30 minutes is combined with hour-unit duration.
30 minutes = 30 분 (O) 반 분 (X)
an hour and a half = 한 시간 삼십 분(O) 한 시간 반(O)
Eight hours thirty minutes = 여덟 시간 삼십 분 (O) 여덟 시간 반 (O)