Ep15: What time is it? | Tsit-má kuí-tiám 這馬幾點?

Bite-size Taiwanese - Cover Art - Newbie - 2500x2500
Bite-size Taiwanese | Newbie
Ep15: What time is it? | Tsit-má kuí-tiám 這馬幾點?

In this episode, we’ve learned how to ask “What time is it?”, “When are you going?”, and also time on the clock and different parts of the day.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)

Thô-hn̂g ki-tiûnn Taoyuan Airport
ki-tiûnn airport
ki-tiûnn tsia̍t-ūn airport MRT, or the Airport Metro Train
tsia̍t-ūn MRT, metro
Tâi-pak tshia-tsām Taipei Main Station
Ko-thih High Speed Rail, HSR
Lâm-káng tsām Nangang Station
Thô-hn̂g tsām Taoyuan Station
Tsit-kuí tiám? What time is it?
Tsit- tiám sì-tsa̍p-gōo (hun). It is 4:45.

Pronunciation note: The tone change of “tiám” is optional here.

Usage note: For numbers larger than 10, the word “hun” (minute) is sometimes left off.

tsit- now
tiám o’clock; dot, point

Usage note: number (colloquial reading) + “tiám”. The “colloquial” reading of numbers is generally used for counting things. You can listen to episode 14 for more about the “colloquial” and “literary” pronunciations of numbers.

tiám-tsing hour (duration)
tsi̍t tiám-tsing one hour
hun minute

Usage note: “hun” can be used for both the minute of clock time and minutes in duration.

hun-tsing minute (duration)
tshit tiám (khòng) tsi̍t hun 7:01
káu tiám tsiànn 9:00 on the dot; right at nine o’clock
peh tiám puànn 8:30; half past eight
puànn half
(tsi̍t) tiám puànn 1:30; half past one
gōo tiám tsa̍p-gōo (hun) 5:15
tsái-khí káu tiám 9:00 in the morning
tsái-khí morning, in the morning

Culture note: There are a number of ways to say the different parts of the day, depending on dialect, regional preferences, and how specific you want to get, e.g. “daybreak” as opposed to “morning”. Beside “tsái-khí”, the word “morning” has other variations such as “tsái-sî-á”, “e-tsá”, and “e-tsái-á”.

tiong-tàu tsa̍p-jī tiám 12 noon
tiong-tàu midday (usually 11-1pm)
e-tàu afternoon; early afternoon
e-poo afternoon; late afternoon
àm- evening and night; nighttime
e-hng / e-hng-àm evening and night; tonight

Pronunciation note: e-hng-àm” is usually contracted as “ing-àm”.

puànn-mê / puànn- the 2-hour period around midnight; late into the night
Lí tang-beh khì? When are you going?
tang- when
Guá e-poo beh khì. I’m going in the afternoon.
Lí kuí tiám beh khì? What time are you going?
Guá e-poo nn̄g tiám puànn beh khì. I’m going at 2:30 in the afternoon.
In kuí tiám beh lâi? When are they coming?

*Syllables that have been greyed out require tone changes.


In Taiwanese, the time is typically put before the verb, but still after the subject. Also notice that the preposition “at” in English is usually not needed or translated in Taiwanese.

Within a time phrase, we always go from the general to the more specific, e.g. year → month → date/day → morning/evening → clock time.

Subject Time Verb
Guá e-poo nn̄g tiám puànn beh khì.
(I) (afternoon, 2-o’clock-half) (am going)

If you want to emphasize the time as the topic, it’s possible to move it before the subject at the front of the sentence.

When forming a question, the question word for time like “tang-” (when), or “kuí tiám” (what time), is placed in the same position and the word order remains the same.

Subject Question Word for Time Verb
tang- beh khì?
kuí tiám beh khì?

For more about telling time and related expressions, go check out our downloadable workbook! You’ll also find additional vocabulary with characters, pronunciation notes, grammar explanations, culture tips, and fun exercises to help your practice.

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *