May 25, 2017

How To Read a Round Clock and Understand “Quarter Past” and “Quarter To”

Don’t let time be a mystery because the clock is from history! People often give the time in puzzling phrases like “quarter past 3” that come from the way a round clock works. Old fashioned round clocks are all you can see in many classrooms, court rooms and churches where you might get in trouble for checking the time on your phone. Once you understand how a round clock works you will wonder how you ever didn’t. You can learn in the ten minutes it takes to look at these pictures and watch this short video.

The Hour Hand and the Minute Hand

The short hand on a round clock points to the hour. The long hand points to the minutes. The hours are the numbers around the edge of the face of the clock. The minutes are the small tick marks around the outer edge. There are 12 hours on the face of a round clock and there are 60 minutes on a clock face.


Both the hour hand and the minute hand move around the clock to the right, from 12. That is why they call this direction “Clockwise.”

How To Read a Round Clock

1) Say the number the hour hand has moved past. 2) Say the ticks the minute hand has moved past. In our “Clockwise” picture, the hour hand has moved past the 7 and the minute hand has moved 24 minutes, so the time is 7:24.

The Second Hand

The long skinny hand on some round clocks tells the seconds. It goes around once every minute. Medical personnel and first responders used the second hand on their round watches for counting heart pulses, before there were digital watches.

Video: How To Tell Time on a Round Clock

Our hostess explains that the minute hand moves five minutes for each number it gets to. She explains that the short hand points to the hour and the long hand points to the minute. she then tells you to read the round clock after she sets the time. She waits a few seconds and then she tells you the answer. She helps you practice reading a round clock three times.

Explanation of quarter past, quarter to, half past…

There are 60 minutes in an hour. A quarter of 60 is 15. Half of 60 is 30. Regarding minutes:

We read the right side of a round clock by how far the minute hand has moved past the hour, so:

“Quarter past 2” means 2:15

“Half past 2” means 2:30

We read the left side of a round clock by how many minutes come before the next hour, so:

“Quarter to 3” means 2:45

Read how to read a round clock with Roman numerals for more information on old-fashioned sayings about telling time.

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