Listening Tip #3: Telling time casually

In the last post we went through different ways to say ‘when’ in Indonesian (click here if you haven’t read it yet). Since we’re still in the topic of time, I thought it will be good to look at it in the context of listening.

I believe that most of you have learnt the formal way to tell time in Indonesian:


Jam tiga lewat sepuluh pagi


Jam enam kurang lima sore


Jam setengah satu siang

You might also have heard the more casual way that sounds like this:


Jam tiga empat puluh

Now what I thought worth sharing is that there’s another casual way in Indonesian to tell time. It’s quite similar to the formal way but with different point of reference. The point of reference is not in 0 minute but rather the 30th minute.

From 16-29 minutes

Jam + Setengah + (Next Hour) + Kurang + (Minute)



Jam setengah lima kurang sepuluh

(4:30pm – 10 minutes)

From 31-44 minutes

Jam + Setengah + (Next Hour) + Lewat + (Minute)



Jam setengah lima lewat sepuluh

(4:30pm + 10 minutes)

This might sound very confusing for a second language speaker, but for Indonesians, this reduces the amount of calculation needed when they see a clock and limiting the minutes to less than 15.

Also note that the casual ways of telling time are only used in conversation and because the current setting and context (whether it’s morning, afternoon etc) should already be clear when we converse about time, people might no longer say whether it’s pagi, siang, sore or malam. When you hear them doing this and fail to get the context, do not hesitate and clarify it with them straight away.


In the next post I will look at the difference between ‘lama’, and ‘tua’ in Indonesian. Have a lovely weekend!

Have a question regarding this topic? Post your question below!

Listening Tip #3: Telling time casually

One thought on “Listening Tip #3: Telling time casually

  • 20/11/2016 at 10:01 am

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