In Ireland we say:

"Twenty-five to ten" (9:35) (21:35)
"Twenty to ten" (9:40) (21:40)
"A quarter to ten" (9:45) (21:45)
"Ten to ten" (9:50) (21:50)
"Five to ten" (9:55) (21:55)
"Ten o'clock" or just "Ten". For example, "I'll see you at ten so!" (10:00) (22:00)
"Ten past ten" (10:10) (22:10)
"A quarter past ten" (10:15) (22:15)
"Half ten" and sometimes "Half past ten" (10:30) (22:30)

You can also drop the hour value, if it is obvious, for example:

"Is it half past yet?" (you can't say "Is it half yet?")
"It's a quarter to, I must go!"

When being exact:

"It's a minute past nine" (9:01) (21:01)
"It's thirteen minutes to ten" (9:47) (21:47)

a.m and p.m. are not used. Instead to differentiate between 9:35 and 21:35 you would say:

"I'll see you at twenty-five to ten tomorrow evening so."
"I'll pick you up at twenty-five to ten in the morning."

This is very consistent for all age groups and all parts of Ireland as fas as I know.

How do you tell the time and mention which dialect you speak in your answer? How much of the Irish way of telling the time would sound alien or even confusing to you?

  • 1
    Ten fifteen, ten thirty, ten sixteen, and ten fifty-seven are also quite common in the UK. Jun 11, 2014 at 9:13
  • 2
    @Edwin Ashworth Not so in Ireland. They sound somewhat American to me.
    – Baz
    Jun 11, 2014 at 9:40
  • Not directly related to English per se, but if you ever use the phrase half ten with a native speaker of any other Germanic language than English, confusion will likely ensue, and they will call you at 9:35 wondering what's keeping you. Half ten means ‘half an hour to ten’ to them unless they happen to know the English meaning, which most don't. Jun 11, 2014 at 9:50
  • ...Whereas to many English people, 'half ten' is taken to mean 10:55. Jun 11, 2014 at 10:39
  • Also see: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Jun 11, 2014 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


With the exception of 'so' (which my wife uses all the time being a Kerry girl!), there's no difference between your usage and (UK) English.

  • That's exactly what I thought.
    – Tristan r
    Jun 11, 2014 at 9:36
  • It the same in the US, although sometimes 'till' is used in place of 'to'. Digital clocks are making the 'forty-five' versions somewhat more prevalent than before.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 11, 2014 at 21:30

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