Asking/Telling the Time and Date in Russian 

 February 10, 2021

By  Anna Yarmoshchuk

Although asking the time becomes rarer and rarer now that everybody has smart gadgets with them, time never disappears from our speech. Like any other language, Russian breathes time in all its variations, and every learner has to grasp how to ask and tell the date and time in Russian. 

 Time in Russian

How to ask the time in Russian

In the Russian language, we’ve got two different expressions to ask the time:

“Который час?” and “Сколько времени?”.

They both mean “What time is it?” and can be used in formal and informal conversation alike. However, when talking to strangers, you shouldn’t forget to use some polite expressions such as:

Извините (простите), не подскажете, который (сейчас) час?---Excuse me, could you please tell me the time?

Скажите, пожалуйста, сколько времени?---Please, tell me what time is it?

It was the easiest part. Here comes the hardest one---understanding the answer and telling the time when someone asks us about it.

How to tell the time in Russian?

There are two ways to tell the time in Russian. The first one (digital clock style) is easier. The second one (analogue clock style) is more complex. However, you have to understand both ways as you never know which way the person you ask about the time will use.

Telling the time in a “digital” style

If you already know the cardinal numerals in Russian (the first 60 are enough), telling the time will be a breeze. You just need to say the number of hours followed by the number of minutes.

For example, it’s 18:35 now.

In Russian, it will be:

восемнадцать часов тридцать пять минут.

Don’t forget to put the words часы (hours) and минуты (minutes) into the genitive case: часов, минут.

Such a precise, “military” style of telling the time is more suitable for formal communication. In everyday conversations, we usually

  • omit the words часов and минут and simply say восемнадцать тридцать пять;
  • use the 12-hour time and specify the time of the day using the words утра, вечера, дня, or ночи only when it’s crucial for understanding. 

For example, 18:35 (or 6:35 p.m.) becomes шесть тридцать пять вечера.

  • From 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., we use утра. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., we say дня. From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., we say вечера. From 12 a.m. to 3 a.m., we use the word ночи. 
  • When it’s 1 a.m. or 1 p.m., we substitute the numeral “one” with the word час.

This is how it works:

Time in 24-hour formatRussian (conversational)
08:00восемь (часов) утра
08:45восемь сорок пять утра
20:45восемь сорок пять вечера
15:00три (часа) дня
03:00три (часа) ночи
01:25час двадцать пять ночи
23:25одиннадцать двадцать пять вечера
13:00час дня
01:00час ночи
00:00двенадцать ночи OR полночь
12:00двенадцать дня OR полдень

Telling the time in the “analogue” style

To master this style, you need to learn these words first:

четвертьquarter past;
без четвертиquarter to;
половинаhalf an hour to;
полhalf an hour to;


  • When it’s 15 minutes past something, we can say the time this way:

            пятнадцать минут + next hour (ordinal numeral in the genitive  case)


            четверть + next hour (ordinal numeral in the genitive case). 

  • When we have a quarter to something, we say

            без пятнадцати + next hour (cardinal numeral, nominative case)


            без четверти + next hour (cardinal numeral, nominative case)

For example:

Time in 24-hour formatRussianRussian (version 2)
08:15пятнадцать минут девятогочетверть девятого
12:15пятнадцать минут первогочетверть первого
00:15пятнадцать минут первогочетверть первого
16:15пятнадцать минут пятогочетверть пятого
19:15пятнадцать минут восьмогочетверть восьмого
12:45без пятнадцати часбез четверти час
13:45без пятнадцати двабез четверти два

Please note: 

You can use words утра, дня, вечера, or ночи when it’s crucial to specify the time of the day or when you talk about future events. 


Like in English, we use половина or пол- (half) for 30 minutes. However, unlike in English where we say “half past something”, in Russian, we put the emphasis on the hour that will be next: 

половина + next hour (ordinal numeral, genitive case). 

Please, keep in mind that пол- is a prefix, so if you use it, it becomes the first part of the ordinal numeral that means the next hour. 

For example:

Time in 24-hour formatRussianRussian (version 2)
08:30половина девятогополдевятого
12:30половина первого (дня)полпервого (дня)
00:30половина первого (ночи)полпервого (ночи)
16:30половина пятого (дня)полпятого (дня)
04:30половина пятого (утра)полпятого (утра)


  • When we have 1 to 29 minutes past something, here is how to say it in Russian:

number of minutes + минута/минут/минуты + next hour (ordinal numeral, genitive                   case).

For example: 

Time in 24-hour formatRussian
08:01одна минута девятого
10:21двадцать одна минута одиннадцатого
11:22двадцать две минуты двенадцатого
16:20двадцать минут пятого

For foreigners, it can be hard to understand when to use минута and when минут                    or минуты? Follow this simple rule:

  • 1 or 21 minutes---use минута;
  • 2-4 or 22-24---use минуты;
  • 5 and more (except 21-24)---use минут.
  • When the minutes are from 31 to 59, we use the word без:

без + number of minutes (cardinal numeral, genitive case) + минут (optional) + next hour        (cardinal numeral, nominative case).

Note: If the next hour is 1 a.m. or 1 p.m., don’t forget to substitute один with the word час

For example:

Time in 24-hour formatRussian
08:40без двадцати девять
10:50без десяти (минут) одиннадцать
11:55:00без пяти двенадцать
16:35без двадцати пяти (минут) пять
23:59без одной минуты полночь
12:50без десяти час
00:40без двадцати час

We know, it looks and sounds overwhelming now but it will get easier and easier as you practice. By the way, there’s good news for you! When it’s 5 to 1 minutes to something, you can round it up using почти (almost):

почти десять---it’s almost 10 a.m. (9:57)
почти час---it’s almost 1 p.m. (12:58).

Yup, we are ALMOST finished with telling the time. We just have got to actually using it in real communication. 

Using time expressions in sentences

Now that you already know how to tell the time in Russian, you need to practice using it in different life situations. Have a look at these examples and pay attention to the prepositions we use with the time expressions.

  • Stating the time---no preposition:

Когда в Москве восемь утра, в Нью-Йорке еще только час ночи. When it’s 8 a.m. in Moscow, it’s still only 1 a.m. in New York.

  • Telling the exact time when the event happens---preposition в:

Занятия в школе начинаются в полдевятого утра и заканчиваются в два часа дня. School begins at half past eight in the morning and is over at two in the afternoon.

Метро закрывается в полночь. The subway closes at midnight.
  • Events that happen after a certain time---preposition после (requires genitive case):

Она сможет присоединиться к нам после семи. She can join us after seven o’clock.

  • Events that happen by a certain time---preposition к:

Сегодня потеплеет к полудню. It will get warmer by noon today.

  • Approximate time---preposition около:

Он придет около шести. He will come at about six o’clock. 

Other time expressions you should remember:

на рассветеat dawn
утромin the morning
в полденьin the afternoon, at noon
вечеромin the evening
на закатеat dusk
ночьюat night

How do we ask and tell the date in Russian?

Date without event (in the abstract)

Let’s imagine, you want to find out today’s date without referring to any event. For example, you’ve forgotten what’s on the calendar. This is how to ask about it in Russian:

Какое сегодня число? (What’s the date today?)

To answer this question, you need to: 

  1. Know the date 🙂
  2. Put the date (ordinary numeral) into the nominative case, neutral gender, singular. The ending will be -ое (or for number three).
  3. Put the month (months in Russian are nouns of the masculine gender) into the genitive case, singular. The ending will be / .

It only seems difficult. Here’s how easy it is in reality:

  1. Let’s imagine, it’s the 4th of June today.
  2. Четыре (four, cardinal numeral) → четвертый (ordinary numeral, nominative case, masculine, singular) → четвертое (ordinary, nominative, neutral, singular).
  3. Июнь (June, noun, masculine, nominative, singular) → июня (genitive, singular).

So, the answer is:

Сегодня четвертое июня.

Please, pay attention that, unlike in English, we lower-case the months in Russian. 

In the same way, you can ask about yesterday (вчера), the day before yesterday (позавчера), tomorrow (завтра) or the day after tomorrow (послезавтра).

For example: 

Какое число было вчера? Вчера было третье июня.                                                                      What was the date yesterday? It was the 3rd of June.

Какое завтра число? Завтра (будет) пятое июня.                                                                          What will be the date tomorrow? It will be the 5th of June.

Now, how about the year? It’s highly unlikely that you (or somebody) forget it… but maybe someday you will travel into the past (or what is cooler, into the future), and you’ll need to ask about it. Then say 

Какой сейчас год?                                                                                                                                    What year is it?

In Russian, we tell the year in the same way as you name the four-digit number in math. All digits in the nominative case. The last digit turns into the ordinary numeral (If it’s zero, the last two digits):

  • две тысячи двадцатый год (2020);
  • одна тысяча девятсот восемдесят пятый (1985);

Telling the full date?

Easy. Just name the date in nominative case followed by month and year (last digits) in the genitive.    

Сегодня четвертое июня две тысячи двадцатого года.

Date + event

Now let’s imagine you need to find out the date when the event happens. Then we start our question with Когда...? (When…?) or Какого числа…? (On what date...?).

To answer, we need to put both the date and the month in the genitive case. The date gets an ending -ого (or -его for number three). The month will end with  / .

For example:

Какого числа приезжает твой брат? Десятого марта.                                                                   On what date is your brother coming? On the 10th of May.

Когда у твоей жены день рождения? Двадцать третьего ноября.                                         When is your wife’s birthday? It’s on the twenty-third of November.

Please, pay attention to двадцать третьего ноября. When a date is a two-digit number (like 23 or 31), we put only units into the genitive case and leave tens as they are (in the nominative case).

For your convenience, we have created a table where you can find Russian ordinary numerals and months already put in nominative and genitive cases so that you can practice telling the date in Russian with ease.

DateOrdinary numerals,
Ordinary numerals,
Months, genitive
21двадцать первоедвадцать первого
2...двадцать ...двадцать ...
31тридцать первоетридцать первого

Now let’s sum everything up for different situations:

Event + year/month (preposition в, prepositional case):

В каком году родился твой брат? В две тысячи двенадцатом.
When was your brother born? In 2012.

Когда у тебя отпуск? В августе.
When is your vacation? it’s in August.

Event + month + year (preposition в, month---prepositional, year---genitive)  

Когда ты начал работать в этой компании? В феврале две тысячи семнадцатого.
When did you start to work in this company? In February 2017.

Event + full date (all genitive) 

Когда твои родители поженились? Двадцать пятого октября две тысячи шестого года.
When did your parents get married? On October 25, 2006.

Hey guys, this lesson was a little bit “mathy” and overloaded with grammar, but you are now 100% equipped for speaking about everything time-related in Russian. Don’t forget to practice this new knowledge. It won’t be hard as time surrounds us everywhere.

What parts were the hardest? Got questions? Or maybe we missed something… Please share in comments. We are working hard to produce more exciting content on the Russian language for you! Stick around. 

Anna Yarmoshchuk

Anna Yarmoshchuk is a professional wordsmith with a passion for learning languages and traveling the world. Born in USSR with Russian as her first language, she is using her MA in Journalism to craft content that introduces Russian culture to the world. In her free time, Anna can be found chased by her 3 little explorers who keep her in a perfect problem-solving and story-telling shape.

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