More on Time

Still on expressing time, in English we creatively express the time by using phrases like it’s 15 minutes past the hour of 10 in the morning or it’s 45 minutes before 11 in the morning.  In Korean there is also some other ways of expressing time similar to that.  12:40am can be expressed:

  • 아침 열두 시 사십 분 (achim yeoldu shi saship pun) the usual way but the other way is to say;
  • 오후 한 시 일십 전 (ohu han shi ilship cheon) which is actually 20 minutes before 1 o’clock in the afternoon literally this is 12:40am.  This is how to say it in Korean similar to the italcized numeral expression above.

We also usually hear stressed on time expression such as at exactly 1:30.  Thi is expressed as 정각(에) cheonggak(e) in Korea as such 한 시 삼십 정각에 (han shi samship cheonggake) is ‘at exactly 1:30’.

For the purpose of telling time 시 (shi) pertains to hour or o’clock but this cannot stand alone as mentioned in my previous post on markers.  For hours pertaining to duration or time in general, 시간 (shican) is used.

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What Time is it?

Telling the time (시간 – shican) in Korean is a little complicated especially if you are not familiar with the Native and Sino-Korean Numbers.  Generally, in expressing time in Korea, the Native Korean numbers are used for the hours while for the minutes the Sino-Korean is used. Basic formula would be:

  • Hours: Native Korean number followed by -시 (shi) which stands for o’clock (this is to mark the hour)
  • Minutes: Sino-Korean number followed by -분 (pun) which stands for minutes

So to say 1:40, it’s 한 시 사십 분 (han shi saship pun).  There is also a marker used to express half past an hour.  Like when you normally would state in English half past 12 o’clock, half past the said hour is expressed using the marker 반 (ban). Therefore this will be 열두 시 반 (yeoldu shi ban) in Korean.

To be more precise in expressing the time, AM (in the morning) and PM (in the afternoon) is normally added after the time.   While in English this indicators are placed after the hour, in Korean, this can be found in the beginning of the time expression:

  • 아침 (achim) or 오전 (ocheon) for AM or morning
  • 오후 (ohu) for PM specifically afternoon
  • 밤 (bam) for PM specifically evening

So,

  • 아침 한 시 사십 분 (achim han shi mahun pun) is 1:40 am.  Literally its Morning or AM 1:40.
  • 오후 한 시 사십 분 (ohu han shi mahun pun)  1:40 pm
  • 밤 열 시 일십 분 (bam yeol shi ilship pun) is 10:10 pm or 10:30 in the evening