You are here

Lesson 5 Making an Appointment

Submitted by vuchinie on Tue, 03/18/2014 - 22:12

Goal: The goal of this lesson is to practice expressing the time in Chinese and learn how to pick a meeting time to meet with someone. 

What You Need to Know: Before starting this lesson, it is important that you understand simple sentence and question structure, can comfortably use Chinese numbers, and are familiar with measure words.

Explanation: Telling time in Chinese is an important skill in any language; it is essential when planning to do something. The structure for the time in Chinese is simpler than it may seem at first. This lesson will help you learn the time, while also expressing other important phrases that will help you set up a meeting with someone. 


Read through the vocabulary to familiarize yourself with the words. Then do the exercises following to practice the words. 




free time




how many (interrogative)





zhōng hour






early morning



before noon











one fourth of an hour









Days of the Week

When expressing the date in Chinese, there is a consistent structure that is used. The first component is 星期 followed by the number day of the week, where the first day of the week is considered Monday.  The exception to this structure is Sunday. 

星期一       xīngqí yī      Monday

星期二      xīngqí'èr      Tuesday

星期三     xīngqísān     Wednesday

星期四     xīngqísì        Thursday

星期五     xīngqíwǔ      Friday

星期六     xīngqíliù      Saturday

星期天    xīngqítiān     Sunday

Telling Time

When you want to express time, you use the following structure:

number of the hour    +    点     +      number of minutes    + 钟

When using either 半 or 刻, a different structure is used.

半 :   number of the hour  +   点   +   半

刻 :number of the hour    +   点    +     一   or  三     +    刻

You may be wondering why that when using 刻, you only have one or three in front of it. Well 一刻 means fifteen minutes and 三刻 means forty five minutes, but since we use 半 to express a half hour, it is unnecessary to use 二刻. Also take note that after 刻 or 半, 钟 is not necessary because it is implied. 

Another important exception to note when deciding when to use 二/两. If you are saying 2:00, you use 两 for the hour, producing 两点钟. If you are saying 5:20, then you used 二十 for the minutes, producing 五点二十分.

Time of the Day

In Chinese, different times of day have different words similar to English. Below the words will be broken down to simplify them; if you can understand each part of the word, then it is easier to learn and remember the meaning of the words together. 

早   zǎo  early
shàng above
xià below
zhōng middle
wǎn late
bàn half

早 + 上 = early + above (noon) = early morning 

上午 = above + noon = morning

中午 = middle + noon = noon

下午 = below + noon = afternoon

晚上 = late + above (midnight) = evening

半夜 = middle + night = midnight 

夜里 = night + in = night 

Expressing Specific Times of Day

When expressing a time in Chinese, you start with the greatest time increment and go to the smallest. The structure is organized as follows:

Year Month Day Day of the week Time of Day Hour Minute

NOTE: This does not mean you need to include each of the above components when you need to express a time because in some cases, not all of the above information will be provided. Just organize the information provided in the structure above. Pay careful attention to the structure because the words are organized differently in Chinese and English. Look at some examples below and then try some on your own.

Sunday May 24 6:00 pm                  五月二十四号星期天晚上六点钟

Wednesday August 8 7:30 am       八月八号星期三早上七点半

Tuesday December 11 12:00 pm   十二月十一号星期二中午

Friday October 9 3:15 pm                 十月九号星期五下午三点一刻

Asking for the Time/Date/Day of the Week

When asking the time in Chinese, follow the patterns below.

Date : 今天几月几号? Today is what month and what day?

Day of the week : 今天星期几?  Today is which day of the week?

Time : 现在几点钟?What time is it right now?


Now that you know how to use time in Chinese, start practicing! Answer the following questions in Chinese. You don't have to use full sentences for the questions that are in English, just respond with the time in Chinese. If you have trouble with the first two questions, look back to this previous lesson.



What time do you wake up to eat breakfast?

What time do you go to sleep?

What time do you study Chinese?

What time do you like to shower?

What is your favorite month of the year?

What time of day do you like to see movies?

Skyping with your Language Partner

Now you are ready to skype with your language partner. Compose a list of questions to ask your partner, if you have trouble thinking of questions, you can use questions from this lesson. Make sure to be patient with your partner, as you want him/her to be patient with you. Once you are done with your conversation, write a blog post here.