How to Read a Clock to Know Time (Tell Time on a Watch) - BYJUS

How to Read a Clock

There are two types of clocks: digital and analog. Digital clocks tell us the time directly. Analog clocks on the other hand may look confusing at first. But with an understanding of the importance of the movements of the hands of a clock and how time is measured, we can easily read time using analog clocks. Reading time from an analog clock keeps reminding us of the relationship between seconds, minutes, and hours. ...Read MoreRead Less

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How do you tell the Time on a Clock?

You can tell the time by reading a clock. Now, there are two types of clocks from which we can know the time, analog clocks and  digital clocks.

What are Analog and Digital clocks?

Analog clocks are generally seen at homes. Such clocks have moving hands to tell the time.




The above image of an analog clock shows us that the short hand shows the hours, while the long hand shows the minutes.

On the other hand, a digital clock tells the time by using numbers.



In the above image, the first two numbers give the hour while the last two numbers give the minutes.

Both the clocks are able to give the time of the day in hours and minutes.

How do we read an Analog Clock?

From the previous image of the analog clock, we can recollect that the short hand was at 12, so 12 is the hour, and the long hand was at 6, so that is 30 minutes and not 6 minutes. That means, the time is twelve-thirty.

How to read the Minute hand?

The long hand that is the minute hand can be a bit tricky to read but once you get the hang of it, you will find it easy. The numbers that you see on the analog clock tell you about groups of 5. Start at 1, skip the count by 5 till you reach the number that the long hand is pointing at.




So, from the above image, the long hand is on 6 and by skip counting, we will arrive at 30. This is how the minutes on the clock shown by the minute hand should be counted.

How to read the Half hours?

Half an hour is the middle of an hour. Now, there are 60 minutes in an hour. So, half of it would be 30 minutes. Half an hour is 30 minutes.

If the long minute hand points at 12, this means that 60 minutes have passed. It is denoted as “00” on the minute side of the time, especially in digital clocks. Now, if the long hand points to 6, this means that 30 minutes have passed by. It is denoted as “30” on the minute side of the time on digital clocks.


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For example, if you want to tell the time of 8:30 on an analog clock, then the short hand will point at 8 and the long hand will point at 6. The short hand shows us that the hour is 8. The long hand shows us that it’s 30 minutes after 8:00. So, it’s 8:30!

What are A.M. and P.M.?

There are 24 hours in a day. But analog clocks only have 12 hours on them. As a result, the hour hand moves around the clock two times a day. 11:00 happens twice a day. But this can create confusion as it will be difficult to say one 11:00 apart from the other. Thus, we use a.m. and p.m. to tell the time. A.M. is the time between midnight and noon. A.M. stands for Ante Meridiem. While P.M. is the time between noon and midnight. It stands for Post Meridiem.

Things to remember about clocks

  • There are 365 days in a year.
  • There are 24 hours in a day.
  • There are 60 minutes in each hour.
  • There are 60 seconds in each minute, but most clocks don’t show that. (some digital clocks might)

Solved Examples on How to Read a Clock

Example 1:  Find the time from this analog clock.

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Answer: From the above image, you can see that the short hand points to 10 while the long hand points to 12. As we learned, the short hand is the hour hand and the long hand is the minute hand. Remember, when the minute hand is on 12, then it means it’s “OO”. So, the time is 10 o’ clock.


Example 2: Can you show the time on the digital clock?


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Answer: From the above image, the analog clock shows the time of 9 o’ clock. So, the time will be the same on the digital clock but with some minor changes. The sign (:) will be present between the hour hand and minute hand for a digital clock. So, it will be 9:00.

Frequently Asked Questions on Reading a Clock

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A.M. is the first half of the day. For example, my brother wakes up at 6 a.m. to go to school. I had breakfast at 10 a.m.

P.M. is the second half of the day. For example, David returned home from school at 4 p.m.

Suppose we have to tell the time of 3 o’ clock. On a digital clock, the number(s) before the colon (:) describe the hours, while the numbers after : describe the minutes. So, it will look like 3:00.


Although clocks come in different shapes and sizes, they are always designed such that the hands move in a circular pattern.