0514G Telling Time On The Hour

An introduction to telling time in Hawaiian

Did you ever wonder how to tell the time in Hawaiian? This is the lesson to start you off!

Speaking about the time of day in modern Hawaiian blends both traditional and modern methods. Traditionally, the time of day was not nearly as specific as an hour or a minute; people didn't care to worry if the time were 9:00 or 9:30 or 11:00 or 4:00. Rather, terms like the following would have been commonly used:

Some Times Of Day In Hawaiian

ahiahi late in the day, when you start to notice the dimming of daylight and feel like it’s time to stop work and go back home; evening.
when it’s dark enough to see stars in the sky, all the way through the turning of the Milky Way and until light breaks the horizon line; night.
aumoe in the middle of the night, when all is quiet and still and not even the pueo (owl) stirrs; this time ends well before the eastern sky starts to brighten and well before any roosters crow. It's the time when the menehune were said to be active.
wanaʻao when the eastern sky starts to brighten enough to wake up the roosters and the sky gains its beautiful purple tint; continues as the sky becomes orange in color.
kakahiaka from when it’s light enough in the early morning to see where you are going without an artificial light and it’s time to get going for the day; morning.
awakea when the sun is over and above your shoulders and head and you feel perhaps it’s time to get out of the hot sun for a rest and something to eat; midday.
ʻauinalā when the sun is visibly making its curving descent towards the western horizon; after a rest, time to think about wrapping up the day; afternoon.

There are, actually, several other terms that reference times of day within those mentioned above, but as most of them are poetic, you can just stick to those shown above for starters. We'll learn more terms in later lessons on time.

New Hawaiian Words Used For Time

With the coming of western technology and thought to Hawaiʻi in the early 1800s, new words and ways of speaking about time appeared along with chronometers of various kinds. Here are some words that were taken from the English versions:

hola hour - also often written as "hora" in the 1800s
minuke minute - also "minute" in the 1800s but obviously spoken with Hawaiian pronunciation
kekona second - also "sekona" in some 1800s publications
uaki watch - also "uwaki", "uati", "uwati", and "waki" variously in former times.

The first printed use I have found of the word "hora" is in the 28 Feb. 1834 issue of Ka Lama Hawaii, a missionary newspaper (note that it is written in the old newspaper style without markings and refined word separation):

He lio olalua ka Hipopotamu, no ka mea, ola no ia maloko o ka wai, a ola no mawaho. E luu no ia ilalo i hapalua o ka hora paha, pii hou iluna e hanu, e like me ka honu.

The Hipopotamus is a quadruped with two lifestyles because he lives both in and out of water. He can submerge for perhaps a half hour, and then come up again to breathe, just like a turtle.

Ka Lama Hawaii, Feb. 28, 1834 [Newspaper PDF]

Let's Tell The Time

Of course you will need to be able to count from 1 to 12 in order to state the hour. So if you need to go over your numbers, please review Video 0502V Hawaiian Number Basics: From 1 to 100 before continuing with this lesson.

Note that when we tell time, we want to use the ʻe- prefix before the number base names (from 1 to 9). To learn more about number prefixes, you can review 0505V Hawaiian Number Prefixes #1: ʻA-, ʻE- which came before this lesson.

Numbers 1 - 12 For Telling Time
1ʻekahi 2ʻelua 3ʻekolu 4ʻehā
5ʻelima 6ʻeono 7ʻehiku 8ʻewalu
9ʻeiwa 10ʻumi 11ʻumikūmākahi 12ʻumikūmālua

Sentence Structure for Time in Hawaiian

The sentence structures used to tell time are all based on what we call the Pepeke ʻAike, which is an "equational" type of sentence where you say [something] is equal to [something else], i.e.:

"This is the lesson" : This= the lesson

"It is 1 o'clock" : It= 1 o'clock

In Hawaiian, this "equation" is written the other way around for time. Also, instead of "o'clock (on the clock)", we say "hour". And finally, instead of "it is", we say "this". Here's an example:

"1 hour this" : 1 hour= this

"ʻO ka hola ʻekahi kēia" : ʻO ka hola ʻekahi= kēia

For now, just memorize this simple pattern as it is demonstrated in the examples below. Later on, you will come to understand the reason for the structure and its parts.

ʻO ka hola ʻekahi kēia. It's now one o'clock.
ʻO ka hola ʻelua kēia. It's now two o'clock.
ʻO ka hola ʻumi kēia. It's now ten o'clock.
ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmālua kēia. It's now twelve o'clock.

Add the Time Period

Remember the times of day we saw at the top of this page, like ahiahi and pō? You can add “…o ka [time period]” to the end of your hourly time to indicate what time period of the day you mean. See the examples below:

ʻO ka hola ʻekahi kēia o ke awakea. It's 1 o'clock in the middle of the day.
ʻO ka hola ʻelua kēia o ka ʻauinalā. It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
ʻO ka hola ʻumi kēia o ke kakahiaka. It's 10 o'clock in the morning.
ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmālua kēia o ke aumoe. It's twelve o'clock in the middle of the night.


Practice Telling Time In Hawaiian

Now it's your turn to practice! The exercises and answers are right here for you! Here's what you should do:

  • write the questions out yourself so you can practice writing Hawaiian
  • say the questions to yourself by reading them out loud
  • write the answers
  • say your answers too (even if they might be wrong at first!)

Note: Press and hold with your mouse on the answer link underlined in orange to see my answer for each question. On touch-based devices like iPads and phones, click on the disclosure triangle below each set of exercises to see the answers. Once again, be sure you read the correct answers out loud to yourself many times.

Basic Exercises

Someone might ask you, "ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia?" (What time is this?). What will you say?

  1. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 10 o'clock (Press the link to see the answer)
  2. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 2 o'clock
  3. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 6 o'clock
  4. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 8 o'clock
  5. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 9 o'clock
  6. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 3 o'clock
  7. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 11 o'clock
  8. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? 12 o'clock
All Answers for Basic Exercises
1 10 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻumi kēia.
2 2 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻelua kēia.
3 6 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻeono kēia.
4 8 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻewalu kēia.
5 9 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻeiwa kēia.
6 3 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻekolu kēia.
7 11 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmākahi kēia.
8 12 o'clock ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmālua kēia.

Time and Part of Day Exercises

You can add the part of the day to your answer, as explained above. Try to respond to an imaginary friend who is asking you the time:

  1. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 10 o'clock in the morning
  2. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 2 o'clock in the afternoon
  3. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 6 o'clock in the evening
  4. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 8 o'clock in the morning
  5. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 9 p.m. light late evening eg. in Canada
  6. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 4 o'clock in the morning
  7. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 11 o'clock in the middle of the day
  8. ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia? It's now 12 o'clock in the middle of the night
Answers for Part of Day Exercises
1 It's now 10 o'clock in the morning. ʻO ka hola ʻumi kēia o ke kakahiaka.
2 It's now 2 o'clock in the afternoon. ʻO ka hola ʻelua kēia o ka ʻauinalā.
3 It's now 6 o'clock in the evening. ʻO ka hola ʻeono kēia o ke ahiahi.
4 It's now 8 o'clock in the morning. ʻO ka hola ʻewalu kēia o ke kakahiaka.
5 It's now 9 o'clock in the late evening. ʻO ka hola ʻeiwa kēia o ke ahiahi.
6 It's now 4 o'clock in the morning. ʻO ka hola ʻehā kēia o ka wanaʻao.
7 It's now 11 o'clock in the middle of the day. ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmākahi kēia o ke awakea.
8 It's now 12 o'clock in the middle of the night. ʻO ka hola ʻumikūmālua kēia o ke aumoe.

Next Steps

When you are done with this lesson, move on to the next one in this series on time, 0515G Time On The Half Hour. And don't forget to use what you have learned here every day so that you can answer this question quickly any time of day or night!

Kaliko

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