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Getting started with Italian 2
Getting started with Italian 2

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3 Asking and saying the time

To ask the time, you can either say:

  • Che ore sono? What time is it? (literally: What hours are they?)


  • Che ora è? What time is it? (literally: What hour is it?)

To say the time, you use the verb essere. For all plural hour times use sono:

  • Sono le due. It’s two o’clock.
  • Sono le undici. It’s eleven o’clock.

but for ‘one o’clock’ use è:

  • È l’una. It’s one o’clock.

As you can see from the examples above, the definite article – le for plural hours and la (shortened to l’) for una – is used, followed by the hour.

For midday and midnight, è is used, without the article:

  • È mezzogiorno. It’s midday.
  • È mezzanotte. It’s midnight.

To emphasise an exact time on the hour, you can add in punto (‘on the dot’).

  • Sono le undici in punto. It’s eleven o’clock precisely.