People say that time is just an illusion, but you do use it in daily life!
Time is one of the fundamental measurements of our daily lives. It’s also the foundation for language learning because you’ll need to express time when talking about things such as meeting places, getting on the train, or your daily life habits.
The Japanese units of time are 時 (ji)-hour, 分 (fun) -minute and 秒 (byou)-second. 時 (ji) and 秒 (byou) are simple, but 分 (fun) is little tricky because the pronunciation changes depending on the numbers.
In this article we’ll learn how to count in Japanese regarding time, time words, and example sentences related to daily conversations.
時 (ji) – Hour
The unit of an hour is called 時 (ji) in Japanese. When you say a certain time, you say “number+時 (ji)”.
For example, 3 o’clock is 三時 (san-ji).
時 (ji) is a unit and 時間 (jikan) is a counter. A counter is a measure word used with numbers to count things.
For example, if you want to say 3 hours, it’ll be 三時間 (san-jikan).
Additional info! AM and PM
The problem of telling time is that people might not understand whether you want to say AM or PM if you don’t mention it. When you want to make it clear you’re talking about AM, you add 午前 (gozen) in front of the time. The word for PM is 午後 (gogo).
分 (fun) – Minute
The unit of a minute is 分 (fun) in Japanese.
When you want to tell the minutes, you will say number+分 (fun). However, this unit is a little tricky because its pronunciation can to “pun” depending the number. So, for example, two minutes is 二分(Nifun), but one minute is 一分(ippun).
But don’t worry. The numbers that change pronunciation are 1, 6, and 10. This includes bigger numbers, such as 21, 31, 46, when the number ends with the “pun” number.
For example, when you say 1 minute, you say 一分(ippun). When you say 21 minutes, it’ll be 二十一分 (niju-ippun).
3, 4, and 8 can use either "fun" or "pun."
How do I combine hours with minutes?
You say "hour number + 時(ji) + minute number + 分(fun/pun)"
For example, 3:40 is: 三時四十分(sanji-yonjyuppun)
秒 (byou) - Second
When you count seconds in Japanese, you say 秒 (byou). All you have to do is say “number”+ 秒 (byou).
For example, 10 seconds is 十秒 (juubyou).
Let's learn some example sentences!
I wake up at 7.
Watashi wa shichi-ji ni okimasu.
I go to school at 8:20.
Watashi ha hachi-ji nijyuppun ni gakkou ni ikimasu.
I will arrive at school in 15 minutes.
jyuugofun de gakkou ni tsukimasu.
I will heat up my rice for 30 seconds.
Gohan wo sanjyubyou atatamemasu.
I will meet my friend at 6 o' clock in the afternoon.
Tomodachi to gogo rokuji ni aimasu.
起きます(okimasu) - to wake/get up
学校(gakkou) - school
行きます (ikimasu) - to go
着きます(tsukimasu) - arrive
ごはん(gohan) - rice
温めます(atatamemasu) - heat up
友達(tomodachi) - friend
会います(aimasu) - meet
If you want to learn more about time, check out our article on how to say you will be late!