Read a Watch or a Clock

The clock has two hands. The face of a clock is called the dial. The dial is marked with numbers from 1 to 12. The small hand is the hour hand. It shows time in hours. The longer hand is the minute hand. It shows time in minutes.

At 1 o'clock, the hour hand is at 1 and minute hand is at 12. It moves to next number 2 after one hour.

Reading a Clock

Hour hand takes 12 hours to complete one round.

The minute hand takes 5 minutes to move from one number to the next number in the clock.

The minute hand takes 60 minutes to complete one round on the clock.

How to read a watch or a clock?

The three figures will help us to read a watch or a clock.

How to read a watch or a clock?

Hour hand indicates hours and Minute-hand indicates minutes. 

In figure (i) hour-hand is indicating number 1 or just after 1. So, we read it as 1 hour. The minute hand indicates 4 divisions after the number 3, i.e., 3 x 5 + 4 = 19, or 19 divisions from 12. So we read it as 19 minutes.

The watch indicates that the time is 1 hour 19 minutes.

We may express it as 1 : 19.

We may say it is 19 minutes past 1.

At or after the number that the hour-hand indicates, the number expresses the hour.

At or after the number that the minute-hand indicates, the number multiplied by 5 and number of divisions after the number, express the minutes. If minute hand indicates 3 divisions after number 7, then minutes is 7 x 5 + 3 = 38 minutes.

In figure (ii) hour hand is between 3 and 4. So, we say it is 3 hours. The minute hand is 2 divisions after number 8. So, minute is 8 x 5 + 2 = 42 minutes.

The time is 3 hours 42 minutes.

We may write it as 3 : 42.

We may say it is 42 minutes past 3,

or, (60 - 42 = 18 minutes) 18 minutes to 4.

In figure (iii) expresses 8 : 35 or 35 minutes past 8 or, ( 60 - 35 = 25 minutes) 25 minutes to 9.

Read the time shown in these clocks.

20 minutes past 2

20 minutes past 2   

2 : 20

25 minutes to 6

25 minutes to 6 or 35 minutes past 5

5 : 35

Quarter past 10

Quarter past 10 or 15 minutes past 10

10 : 15

Quarter to 5

Quarter to 5 or 45 minutes past 4

4 : 45

Reading Time to the Minute:

The clock has numbers from 1 to 12 marked on its dial. These numbers divide the clock face into 12 equal parts. Between any two numbers there are 5 small divisions. Each small division represents a minute. So, there are 60 divisions on the dial. The minute hand completes 1 round of the dial in 60 minutes.

28 Minutes Past 3

Look at the given clock here, the minute hand points to 3 divisions after number 5. It shows that the minute hand has moved 5 × 5 + 3 or 28 minutes. So, the time shown in the given clock is 28 minutes past 3.

For Example:

42 Minutes Past 5

Write the time shown on the given clock.

The hour hand is between 5 and 6

The minute hand is on the second small division after 8.

So, the minute hand has moved 5 × 8 + 2 = 42 minutes.

The time is 42 minutes past 5.

It is written as 5:42

Reading Time to the Second:

The thin and very long hand on the clock shows the time in seconds. This is called second hand. The second hand moves very fast. The second hand takes only 1 minute to complete 1 round of the dial. The second hand takes 5 seconds to go from one number to the next. If the second hand is at number 4. It means that 4 × 5 or 20 seconds have passed. So, 5 × 12 = 60 seconds 1 minute = 60 seconds.

Read the time in the following picture. Find out at what time Richard wakes up in the morning.

Read the Time

The hour hand is at 7

The minute hand is at 12

The time is 7 o'clock.

When the minute hand is at 12. We say o'clock. 

1 hour = 60 minutes.

Questions and Answers on Read a Watch or a Clock:

I. Circle the a.m. or p.m. as per the given clocks:


8 Minutes Past in the Morning


12:47 in the Afternoon

8 Minutes Past in the Morning

am or pm


Quarter to 6 in the Evening

Quarter to 6 in the Evening

am or pm

12:47 in the Afternoon

am or pm


5 O'clock in the Morning

Jogging at 5 O'clock in the Morning

am or pm


I. (i) a.m.

(ii) p.m.

(iii) p.m.

(iv) a.m.

II. How do you say 10:30 in words?

(i) Half past 30

(ii) Half past 10

(iii) Quarter to 10

(iv) Quarter past 10


II. (ii) Half past 10

Related Concepts

Units for Measuring Length

Measuring Instruments

To Measure the Length of a Line-segment

Perimeter of a Figure

Unit of Mass or Weight

Examples on Unit of Mass or Weight

Units for The Measurement of Capacity

Examples on Measurement of Capacity

Measurement of Time

Read a Watch or a Clock

Antemeridian (a.m.) or Postmeridian (p.m.)

What Time it is?

Time in Hours and Minutes

24 Hour Clock

Units of Time

Examples Units of Time

Time Duration


Reading and Interpreting a Calendar

Calendar Guides us to Know

4th Grade Math Activities

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