What Does O’clock Stand For?

What does O’clock stand for? Do you want to know it? Well, just spend some minutes reading this article, you will not only find out what o’clock but also get the useful and common ways to ask for and tell the time in English.


“O’clock” is a very common English word that it’s used very widely in everyday speech, especially when we talk about the time. But have you ever wanted to know what the word o’clock really stands for? Well, if you are looking for full version of this word, our today’s article can help.

Not only does let you know what o’clock stands for, this post also introduces you some useful and common ways to ask for and tell the Time in English. That’s enough for the introduction, now it’s the time for us to start exploring this writing. Here we go!

What does o’clock stand for?

As you can see, the word o’clock includes 2 parts: O’ + CLOCK. While “clock” is the device for measuring time, what O’ of o’clock means? In fact, O’ is a shortened way to say the word “of.” Combining these 2 parts, we know that o’clock stand for the phrase “of the clock,” right?

So when someone says “it’s 8 o’clock,” it means “it is 8 of the clock” – an old way to tell the time.

How to ask for and tell the Time in English?

Due to the fact that our today’s topic is related to clock and time, we decided to spend a part of this writing to remind you of some useful expressions and common ways used to ask and tell the time in the English language.

How to ask for the time?

Well, when you want to ask for time from the people around, you can use one of these common questions, including:

  • The questions to ask for the time right now.

- Excuse me, what time is it?

- Excuse me, what’s the time?

- Could you tell me the time, please? - A polite way to ask for the time.

  • The questions to ask for the time of a specific event.

You can use the question word of “what time” or “when” to make this type of question.

What time + auxiliary verb + S + V?


When + auxiliary verb + S + V?

For example:

What time/When does the shop open?

What time/When does the show start?

What time/When should we meet?

Note: You are likely to get a general answer (like on Monday, on May, next week, …) if you use “when” instead of question word “what time.”

How to tell the time?

​Here are the 2 common ways you can use to tell the time.

​• Hour + Minutes -> Tell the hour first, then the minute

05:05 -It’s five oh five.

09:28 -It’s nine twenty-eight.

01:53 -It’s one fifty-three.

​• Minutes + Past/To + Hour -> Say the minutes first, then bring the hour

​For minutes from 1 to 30, you use PAST after the minutes.

For minutes from 31 to 59, you use TO after the minutes.

02:40 - It's twenty to three.

11:25 - It's twenty-five past eleven.

03:59 - It's one to three.

Important notes:

​1. We just use o'clock when there’re NO minutes. For example: 10:00 = ten o’clock, 9:00 = nine o’clock.

2. Say (a) quarter past… when it’s 15 minutes past the hour. For example: 8:15 = a quarter past eight.

3. Say a quarter to … when it’s 15 minutes before the hour. For example: 9:45 = a quarter to ten.

4. Say half past … when it’s 30 minutes past the hour. For example: 6:30 = half past six (three-thirty also.)

5. Say time + a.m./p.m. OR time + in the morning/afternoon/evening if you want your answer to be more specific.

For example:

- 5:00 (in the morning) = 5 a.m. = 5 o’clock in the morning = five in the morning

- 3:00 (in the afternoon) = 3 p.m. = 3 o’clock in the afternoon = three in the afternoon

- 24:00= Midnight = 12 a.m. = 12 o’clock at night

Some last words

Well, now you are clear about o’clock meaning and the question “What does o’clock stand for?” is completely solved, right? It’s exactly the short form of the phrase “of the clock.” In addition, we also reminded you of common ways of how to ask for and tell the time in English in this post. Hope that they are all useful to you!

Thanks you for reading this post! Don’t forget to like and share our today’s writing if you find it interesting!

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