How to tell the time in Croatian


Even though Croatians generally take a relaxed approach to being on time (i.e. are mostly a little bit late), it’s important to learn how to ask and talk about the time.

Asking the time in Croatian is simple: (What time is it?).

Understanding the answer you receive can be more difficult however, because – as with most languages – there’s more than one way to tell someone what time it is.

1. Standard language

Croatia officially uses the 24-hour clock.

It is very common to hear the following way of expressing the time e.g. on TV or radio:

09:44 →

02:22 →

22:16 →

01:30 →

15:15 →

Keep in mind that the numbers two, three and four (as well as numbers such as 22, 23, 132, 243…) are followed by a noun in genitive singular while the numbers from 5 onwards require genitive plural. You can read more about this in our post about expressing quantities with numbers.

12, 3, 4 +
Genitiv singular
5, 6, 7... +
Genitiv plural

(one o’clock)

(three)      (o’clock)

pet (five)
šest (six)     sati (o’clock)
sedam (seven)

(one minute)

(three)      (minute)

pet (five)
šest (six)     minuta (minutes)
sedam (seven)

2. Everyday language


In everyday communication, Croatians usually think in terms of the 12-hour clock.

Also, the time expression is often reduced to just numbers, i.e. the words „sati“ or „minute“ are omitted. If it isn’t immediately clear from the context if the time of day being talked about is AM or PM, it’s possible to clarify that with the words such as (in the morning), (in the afternoon), (in the evening).

09:00 →

22:16 = 10:16 →

15:15 = 3:15 →

3. Regional differences

Like many other languages, Croatian also uses expressions such as half past seven, quarter to five etc. However, these expressions can vary quite a bit depending on the region!

Here are some examples:

9:30 → instead of , you can also hear the following expressions – depending on where you are in Croatia:

(nine and a half) is common in the south of Croatia (Dalmatia and Istria).

(half ten) is common in the north of Croatia.

9:15 → people in Dalmatia often use the regional word (standard language: = quarter) and would probably say instead of .

8:45 → (fifteen to nine) is a common way of saying ‘quarter to nine’. In the south you will often hear people say (Nine minus fifteen) or (nine minus quarter).

8:50 → (ten to nine) or (Nine minus ten) in the South of Croatia.

If you use expressions such as (half) or (and a half), you must use them with the 12-hour clock. It would sound somewhat odd to use them with the 24-hour clock. For instance, 22:30 can be (half eleven) or (ten and a half), but not pola dvadeset tri or dvadeset dva i pol.

4. Some useful vocabulary when telling the time

→ morning

→ afternoon

→ evening

→ night

→ noon

→ midnight

→ hour

→ minute

→ second

→ time

→ later

→ earlier

→ today

→ tomorrow

→ yesterday

→ now

5. Some useful expressions

→ What time is it?

→ What time will we meet?

→ When will we meet?

→ What time does the shop open?

→ What time does the restaurant close?

→ What time does the concert start?

→ How long does the film last?

→ When do I have to be at the airport?

Exercise: How would you say the following?

It’s now 11:15.  Answer Sada je jedanaest i petnaest.

The film starts at 21:30.  Answer Film počinje u devet i trideset.

Can we meet at 9:00?  Answer Možemo li se naći u devet?

When will you pick me up?  Answer Kada ćeš me pokupiti?

What time does the concert start?  Answer U koliko sati počinje koncert?

When do you need to be home?  Answer Kada moraš biti kući?

We can have lunch at noon.  Answer Možemo ručati u podne.

Are you free this evening?  Answer Jesi li slobodan danas navečer?

Igor will come at 10:05  Answer Igor će doći u deset i pet.

I’ll be home at 21:10  Answer Bit ću kući u devet i deset navečer.