Confusing Swedish time

One of the differences in languages in the way people tell time. There are a few differences between Swedish and English that can be confusing.

The biggest difference is how Swedes say half past the hour. They actually say ‘half to’, so they refer to the hour that’s coming and not the one that’s gone. So, half past five (5.30) in English is called ‘half six’ in Swedish. You can imagine the confusion. This is probably why Swedes usually apply the 24 hour clock in writing – ie 17.30.

As an extension of the ‘half to’ concept, the time between 5.31 and 5.44 is also interesting. In Swedish 5.35, for example, is explained as ‘five past half six’. Once the clock hits 5.45, it becomes a recognizable ‘quarter to’.

Another interesting concept in Swedish time is that she is female. What is the time is ‘hur mycket är klockan?’ (How much is the clock?) but it can also be ‘hur mycket är hon?’ (How much is she?). The answer is ‘hon är klockan tre’ (she is three o’clock).

Finally, Swedes write dates in the year-month-day format, which can also be confusing at times. Today’s date, for example, is 21-03-12.

One thought on “Confusing Swedish time

  1. Hi! That’s one of the writen one, as 12/3 2021 is more common. A date is more spoken as 12:e March 2021. Br Jim Ranåsen

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