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Lesson Transcript


Michael: How do you ask for the time in Hebrew?
Lenny: And how do you tell the time?
Michael: At HebrewPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: During a school break, Sasha asks her classmate, Renana, about the time. They don't want to be late for their next class. Sasha asks,
"What time is it?"
Sasha Lee: ?מה השעה (Ma ha-sha'ah?)
Sasha Lee: ?מה השעה (Ma ha-sha'ah?)
Renana Reuven: .שלוש ורבע (Shalosh va-reva.)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: ?מה השעה (Ma ha-sha'ah?)
Michael: "What time is it?"
Renana Reuven: .שלוש ורבע (Shalosh va-reva.)
Michael: "It's a quarter past three."

Lesson focus

Michael: Asking the time is one of the most fundamental things to learn in Hebrew. In this lesson, you will learn how to ask for the time and answer questions about it. Before you can ask for the time, though, you need to know the Hebrew numbers. In addition, you should also learn the basic vocab related to time—such as hours, minutes, and seconds. We will cover all of those words and you can get some practice saying them!
Hebrew has two basic ways to ask for the time. One way is simple and informal, and the other is more formal. If you’re addressing an elderly person or an Israeli official, it would be better to go with the formal version. It might also be better to address strangers with the formal version, out of politeness.
[Recall 1]
Michael: First, let’s take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Sasha asks "What time is it?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Lenny as Sasha Lee: ?מה השעה (Ma ha-sha'ah?)
Michael: This is the informal way to ask the time in Hebrew. It is really simple! First say the word meaning "what"
Lenny: מה (ma)
Michael: followed with the prefix "the"
Lenny: ה (ha)
Michael: then say the word meaning "hour"
Lenny: שעה (sha-ah)
Michael: Altogether, this literally says "What is the hour?" and we use it to ask "What time is it?"
Lenny: [NORMAL] ?מה השעה (ma ha’sha-ah?) [SLOWLY] ?מה השעה
Michael: Good! Now, if you want to ask the time in a formal way, it sounds like this
Lenny: [NORMAL] ?האם אתה יודע מה השעה, בבקשה (ha’im ata yode-ah ma ha’sha-ah, bevakasha?) [SLOWLY] ?האם אתה יודע מה השעה, בבקשה
[pause 4 seconds]
Michael: meaning "Do you know the time, please?" If you have already learned some polite phrases in Hebrew, you should recognize that word you heard at the end!
Lenny: בבקשה (bevakasha)
Michael: This means "please", and it’s always a good idea to add it, when asking for something. Now, let’s see the question. First, we have the word
Lenny: האם (ha-im)
Michael: which means "do you happen to…?"
Next is the phrase
Lenny: אתה יודע (atah yode’a)
Michael: meaning "you know" and last we have the same two words as the casual way of asking for the time
Lenny: מה השעה (ma ha-sha'a)
Michael: once more, all together
Lenny: ?האם אתה יודע מה השעה, בבקשה (ha’im ata yode-ah ma ha’sha-ah, bevakasha?)
Michael: Let us move on to our next step, which is answering the question. It’s really straight forward, first you say
Lenny: השעה (ha-sha'ah),
Michael: which is the same as in the question and it means "the hour." We follow that with a time phrase. So, as an example, "one o’clock" will be
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה אחת (ha-sha’ah akhat) [SLOWLY] השעה אחת
Michael: which means something like "The hour is one." If the time is five o’clock, you say
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה חמש (ha-sha’ah khamesh) [SLOWLY] השעה חמש
Michael: "The hour is five." That’s good! Now, what if the time is half past the hour? In Hebrew, the word for "half" is
Lenny: חֲצִי (khetsi).
Michael: And, to say half past the hour, we start with the same construction as before, followed by the words "and a half". So, for example, "It’s half past nine" will be
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה תשע וחצי (ha’sha-ah tesha va’khetsi) [SLOWLY] השעה תשע וחצי
Michael: which literally means "The hour is nine and a half." Let’s practice another one. If the time is half past two, we will say
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה שתים וחצי (ha’sha-ah shtaim va’khetsi) [SLOWLY] השעה שתים וחצי
Michael: Great! Next, we should learn how to say quarter past the hour.
[Recall 2]
Michael: Let’s go back to our dialogue and take a look at the second sentence.
Do you remember how Renana says "It's a quarter past three"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Lenny as Renana Reuven: .שלוש ורבע (Shalosh va-reva.)
Michael: The direct translation of this phrase is "three and a quarter" and it is how we say "quarter past three" in Hebrew. Just like with "half past", we start with the number of the hour, which in this case is three
Lenny: שלוש (shalosh)
Michael: and then add the words "and a quarter"
Lenny: ורבע (va-reva)
Michael: In case you didn't know, the word
Lenny: רֶבַע (reva)
Michael: means "a quarter", and the word
Lenny: ו (va)
Michael: means "and". Let’s hear once again how to say "It's a quarter past three." This time, repeat after the native speaker.
Lenny: [NORMAL] .שלוש ורבע (Shalosh va-reva.) [SLOWLY] .שלוש ורבע
Michael: If we had to say the full time phrase, it would be
Lenny: השעה שלוש ורבע (ha’sha-ah shalosh va’reva)
Michael: meaning "The time is quarter past three", but it’s more usual to just say the short version. Let’s practice both! If it is 7:15, we can say
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה שבע ורבע (ha’sha-ah sheva va’reva)
Michael: "The time is quarter past seven" or we can simply say "seven fifteen"
Lenny: [NORMAL] שבע ורבע (sheva va’reva)
Michael: Now, let’s learn how to say the time to the hour. Once again, we start with "the hour is"
Lenny: השעה (ha’sha-ah)
Michael: follow this with "a quarter"
Lenny: רֶבַע (reva)
Michael: then say this new word, which means "to"
Lenny: ל (le)
Michael: and, finally, say the number of the hour. So, if it’s a quarter to four, we say
Lenny: השעה רבע לארבע (ha’sha-ah reva le’arba)
Michael: This is actually the same sentence structure as English! Shall we try one more? See if you can guess what this time phrase is
Lenny: [NORMAL] השעה רבע לשתים עשרה (ha’sha-ah reva le’shteim esre) [SLOWLY] השעה רבע לשתים עשרה
[pause 4 seconds]
Michael: Did you get it? That’s "It’s quarter to twelve."
Michael: In this lesson, you learned how to ask for the time in Hebrew. You also learned how to say the time to the exact hour, past the hour and before the hour.
Michael: You should also know how to ask what time an event will take place. To do this, simply say
Lenny: [NORMAL] ?...מתי ה (matai ha...) [SLOWLY] ?...מתי ה
Michael: meaning ‘What time is…?" and follow it with the event you are asking about. If your question is "What time is the movie with Jason Momoa?" it will sound like this
Lenny: ?מתי הסרט עם ג'ייסון מומואה (matai ha’seret im jeison momo-ah?)
Michael: Let’s try another sentence with this question.
Lenny: ?מתי האוטובוס לתל אביב יוצא (matai ha’otobus le’tel aviv yotse?)
Michael: which means, "What time does the bus to Tel Aviv leave?"
Now, you might be wondering why we have not mentioned the words "minutes" and "seconds" yet. You won’t really need this vocabulary when giving someone the time, but you should learn these for when you need to specify quantities of time. "Minutes" in Hebrew is
Lenny: [NORMAL] דקות (dakot) [SLOWLY] דקות
Michael: and "seconds" is
Lenny: [NORMAL] שניות (shniyot) [SLOWLY] שניות
Michael: In a sentence, you might use them like this
Lenny: לוקח לשם חמש דקות ועשרים שניות. (lokeakh le’sham khamesh dakot ve’esrim shniyot)
Michael: meaning, "It takes 5 minutes and 20 seconds to walk there."
Cultural Insight
Michael: In Israel, the 24-hour clock is used more frequently than you are probably used to—although mostly only in writing. As long as you know your Hebrew numbers to twenty-four, this will not be an extra challenge!
One last thing before we go. Something we do daily in English is using the designations AM and PM to specify what part of the day it is. In Hebrew, it’s more common to use the words ‘"morning", "afternoon", "evening", and "night"
Lenny: בוקר, אחר הצהריים, ערב, לַיְלָה (boker, akhar ha’tsaharaim, erev, laila)
Michael: For example, here is how to say "seven AM", or "seven in the morning"
Lenny: שבע בבוקר (sheva ba’boker)
Michael: For practice, we have just three more phrases! Here is "four in the afternoon"
Lenny: ארבע בצהריים (arba ba’tsaharaim)
Michael: and here is "eight in the evening"
Lenny: שמונה בערב (shmone ba’erev)
Michael: Last, but not least, this is how to say, "It’s ten at night."
Lenny: השעה עשר בלילה (ha’sha-ah eser ba’laila)


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Lenny: להתראות! (lehitra’ot!)
Michael: See you soon!