Posted by: Sarah | July 9, 2009

How Can Telling The Time Be Such A Challenge?

Eliot and I are on the 5th week of our 6 week Norwegian course and the last lesson was about telling the time in Norway.  Who would have thought it could be so difficult but for some reason in Norway, they split the clock into 4 quarters.  I’ll explain…

In the UK we would say “1 o’clock” (“Den er ett” in Norwegian) and quarter past 1 (or “Qvart over ett” in Norwegian)…all that makes sense but go past the quarter and it gets complicated.  We say “20 past 1” in the UK but the Norwegians say “ti på halv to” which basically translates as 10 minutes to half the hour before 2 o’clock!  When you hit the half hour mark it becomes “halv to” which translates to half to two o’clock.  When it’s “20 to 1” it becomes “ti over halv to” or ten over the half hour to 2 o’clock.  Everything goes back to normal at quarter to the hour but even so…why use all the mathematic brain power to process a clock?  Very complicated and it could be so much easier.


  1. I just stumbled at your blog and saw this topic.
    The Dutch way of telling the time is actually the exact same way :D
    To us it’s logically, but I absolutely can see it’s not ;)

    • Hi Trudy – thanks for letting me know! I didn’t realise other countries did the same thing with the clock. Honestly, it’s hard enough learning the language and then we have to learn to tell the time all over again – like being at school again :-)

  2. Haha. I laughed really loudly when reading this post! Hilarious!

  3. By the way… I am really enjoying reading your blog. I am hoping to visit Norway very soon and your blog is both informative and entertaining. My Norwegian friend also finds your blog fantastic! Thanks!

    • Thanks Franceska – really nice to hear from readers and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog!

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