What is the time

Hello students or Habari wanafunzi. Since the previous lesson was about dates ( Tarehe ) and we know about numbers in Swahili then, we should be able to learn about time ( Saa) in Swahili. One key thing to really note is simply that time in swahili is kind of confusing.

Now, what do you mean as "confusing".

Don't worry. We will show you how time in Swahili can be easily remembered. Simply just, look at the alarm clock below:

alarm clock 150x150 What is the time

Time in Swahili starts at 7:00am

We all agree it says it is five clock. However, if you were having a conversation in Swahili with other person and both of you were observing the alarm clock then you ask "Ni saa ngapi?" ( what is the time? ). The other person will reply "Ni saa kumi na moja" ( It is eleven o'clock ). 

But how?

The long hand is pointing towards five so it should be Saa tano. RIGHT??

Well not quite. There are two ways in which you can remember time in Swahili:

  1. Think that time in Swahili is upside down. So, basically spin the hands of the clock 180 degrees (left or right it will give the same result). Remember maths class :). Therefore, if you read the clock and say the time in Swahili you will have to invert the hands, in your head, and read the number in Swahili in which the long hand is pointing away from.
  2. Memorize that the beginning of the day starts from 7:oo am in the morning. This time it is called Saa Moja ushubuni (morning). Then after twelve hours you get 7:00 pm. This time is called Saa Moja usiku (night). Furthermore, as the 12 hours passes you get (7:00 am) Saa Moja ushubuni again. We say that 7 o'clock in the morning and evening is Saa moja is because both mark the start of either the night or day and Moja, as you should remember, is number one. Therefore, seven o'clock is referred as Saa moja in simple terms meaning the first hour of either day or night. 

Okay, if  you were to translate the above alarm clock to a "Swahili clock" or flipping it 180 degrees, it would look like this:

Analog clock at 11 55 150x150 What is the time

It would say it is 11 o'clock. There fore, you get the answer Ni saa kumi na moja because kumi na moja is eleven in English. You see where I am going with this. Furthermore, if you know the Swahili Numbers, it is really easy to remember the times in Swahili. Unfortunately, if you don't know the Swahili numbers, we would insist that you click here to go back to the numbers in Swahili lesson to recap or learn the Swahili numbers

I am using quotes on  the words Swahili Clock is because there is no such thing as a Swahili clock. It is just an easy to help you to remember time in Swahili.

However, if you don't need to remember this you can try memorize this table below :

Seven o'clock Saa moja (1)
Eight o'clock Saa mbili (2)
Nine o'clock Saa tatu (3)
Ten o'clock Saa nne (4)
Eleven o'clock Saa tano (5)
Twelve o'clock Saa sita (6)
One o'clock Saa saba (7)
Two o'clock Saa nane (8)
Three o'clock Saa tisa (9)
Four o'clock Saa kumi (10)
Five o'clock Saa kumi na moja (11)
Six o'clock Saa kumi na mbili (12)

Minutes and Seconds

Now wait a minute, what if the alarm clock said that it is 11:01. Then, what would you say? Simple you say it is Saa tano na dakika moja .

Here are some other examples :

11:23- Saa tano na dakika ishrini na tatu

12:50- Saa tano na dakika hamsini

9:19- Saa tano na dakika kumi na tisa

15:45- Saa tisa kasororobo mchana

2:00:05- Saa nane na sekunde tano

You can put the part of day after your sentcet eg: Asubuni, Usiku if you would like to but it is not required. 



Adhuhuri: Midday

Asubuhi: Morning ( 7am-11am)

Alfajiri: Early Morning (4am-6am)

Mchana: Afternoon (12pm-3pm)

Jioni: Evening (4pm-6pm)

Nusu: Half

Sekunde: Seconds

Robo: Quarter after

Dakika: Minutes 

Kasororobo: Quarter to 

Kamili: Exact

Usiku: Night (7pm-3am)