Some more about telling time
Pm versus am
To distinguish between am and pm Dutch usually adds expressions like "in the morning" or "in the evening"
- 7am: zeven uur 's morgens
- 7pm: zeven uur 's avonds
- 3am: drie uur 's nachts
- 3pm: drie uur 's middags
Notice that each of these adverbial expressions start with 's. It is an abbreviation of the old genitive masculine of the article de: des. The nouns behind it also have an -s as ending. This too is an old fossilized genitive. Dutch no longer has a functioning system of case endings like German does, but there is plenty of relics still in daily use.
The nouns used are:
- de morgen - the morning
- de avond - the evening
- de nacht - the night
- de middag - the afternoon
Instead of "'s morgens" one can also use "'s ochtends"
Parts of the hour
We have seen that "half" is used to show the halfhour, but the usage is different
- Half twee 's middags - Half past one in the afternoon.
The quarter hours are not so hard
- Kwart voor twee - 1h45
- Kwart over twee - 2h15
A few minutes before or after the hour go the same way:
- Vijf voor vier: 3h55
- Tien over vier: 4:10
However, closer to the half hours, the half hour can be taken as reference point:
- Vijf over half twee: 1:35
- Tien voor half zes: 5:20
In the latter case we can also use the closest whole hour as reference point:
- Twintig na vijf: 5:20
Numbers after a preposition
When an approximate reference to an hour is given by just a numeral after a preposition, the numeral may have an ending -en. Once again this is a relict of the case endings, a dative in this case.
E.g. the last example could also be
- Twintig na vijven: 5:20
This is more common in sentences like
- Het is even voor drieën - It's almost three o'clock
- Het loopt al tegen tienen - It's running on ten o'clock
- Na zessen is het bureau gesloten - After six the bureau is closed.