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The Best Comprehensive Guide To Time and Dates in English

It’s that time of the year! Summer Time is over in the northern hemisphere and in many countries around the world, the clocks fall back one hour - which means we get one hour more of sleep! Yay! But what is DST? Why does it happen? Do we tell the time the same way in all countries? How about the date? Does the month go first, or is the day that comes first? This quick guide will answer those and a few more questions!

What Is DST? And Why The H*** Do We Change The Time?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) consists of adjusting the time to achieve longer evening daylight in summer by setting the clocks an hour ahead of the standard time. This idea  was first conceived by US President Bejamin Franklin in 1784, causing controversy since it began, and it starts around April or March, depending on the country, and once the summertime is over, we put the clocks back to normal, which is what is happening very soon.

Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time?


What is the right spelling - Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time? Funnily enough, the official spelling is without s, although it is more common to hear savings, with s, especially in the United States, Canada, and Australia. If you are in any of these countries, you'll have to choose between saying it right or saying it like most people do.

Is The Time Change The Same For All Countries?

No, it is not. The days when we adjust the time varies depending on the country. Here is a much more comprehensive list with dates, but in Europe, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico and Morocco, the end of DTS happens on the last Sunday of October (Oct. 28th in 2018). However, if you are in the United States, Cuba or Canada, you’ll have to wait until the first Sunday of November (Nov. 3rd in 2018) to change your clocks - or let them automatically adjust themselves.

How To Tell The Time - Half Past One Or One Thirty?

The most commonly taught way to tell the time is as follows, depending on the minutes:

  • _ _:00 → (hour) o’clock
  • _ _:15 → quarter past (hour)
  • _ _:30 → half past (hour)
  • _ _:45 → quarter to (next hour)
  • Between _ _:01 and _ _:29 → (minutes) past (hour)
  • Between _ _:31 and _ _:59 → (minutes) to (next hour)

But nowadays it is also super common to hear the hour plus the minutes. For example, 1:10 would be “one ten” and 5:25, “five twenty-five”. I personally find this option easier and more clear but, you know, to each his own.

There are also some differences between the way it is often said in the United States and in the UK, so if it is 10:30 in the USA, it would be common to hear “ten-thirty”, while UK people will informally say half-ten.

How to tell the time - UK and US

A.M. and P.M.

Note that even if the 24-hour notation is used in timetables and most digital clocks, it is much more common in ordinary life to use the 12-hour notation indicating if it is in the morning (or “a.m.”) or in the afternoon/evening (or “p.m.”). So if we see “16:00”, we’ll most likely say  “It’s four o’clock” (or “It’s four p.m.”), instead of “It’s sixteen o’clock”.

  • Seven in the morning = 7 a.m.
  • Six in the afternoon/evening = 6 p.m.

The Date in English

Does the month or the day go first? If you happen to have an international team or have friends living in a different country, you might be familiar with the struggle that this can cause. The quick answer is, it depends on the country. In the UK and most countries in Europe, the most common format is day/month/year, while in the USA, they go for a month/day/year format. In most countries in Asia, however, they tend to start from bigger to smaller, so year/month/day.

With or without commas?

When using the day-month-year format (UK and most of Europe), forget about the commas, you don’t need them (unless you. However, if you are going for the American version month-day-year, then write commas after the day and the year.

  • UK: On 15th September 2017 I moved to Berlin.  /on the fifteenth of September twenty-seventeen/
  • USA: On September 15, 2017, I moved to Berlin. /on September (the) fifteenth, twenty-eighteen/

Time and Dates (2)

Prepositions of Time: AT, IN or ON?

Do you still get confused with these prepositions when you are expressing the time? Here are some quick, useful tips to remember:


a) Specific times:

  • 1:00 → at one o’clock
  • 12:00 → at noon (also: at twelve pm)
  • 3:30 → at half past three
  • 00:00 → at midnight (also: at twelve am)

b) Other expressions:

  • At bedtime
  • At sunrise
  • At night (e.g. That area is dangerous at night)
  • *At the weekend (UK) or *On the weekend (USA)


a) Parts of the day:

  • In the morning
  • In the afternoon
  • In the evening

b) Months, seasons, and years:

  • In January
  • In April
  • In winter
  • In summer
  • In 1992
  • In 2018

c) Other expressions:

  • In the future
  • In the past


a) Days of the week:

  • On Friday
  • On Saturday

b) When we combine the day and the moment of the day:

  • On Tuesday morning
  • On Monday evening


a) We don't use at, in, on when we use last, next, every, this.

  • I moved to Berlin last year.
  • I see my friends every weekend.
  • I will move to Asia next January.

Time and Dates (3)

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About the author: Paola is a social media manager, writer, and language coach, passionate about psychology and communication. Check out her LinkedIn profile to see her latest activity.


Talaera1 (2)Talaera is an online platform that provides one-on-one English language training, anytime, anywhere, with 100% personalized lessons, HD video quality, and qualified teachers that will help you achieve your learning goals.


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