Korean time expressions – How to say the correct date and hour

In this article, we will be learning about Korean time expressions. Whether we realize it right away or not, time expressions are a huge part of our daily life. Thus, whether it’s with a new language or not, it is crucial that we learn the different expressions with which we can express time.

a boy and a girl with a big clock between them

Learning these expressions also makes it easier to talk about when something will happen. These can be for anything like meeting with a person for breakfast, going to eat out in the afternoon, or when you should wait for the bus in the morning.

By the time we reach the end of this article, you should be able to use multiple different time expressions through words and phrases. Let’s read on!

How do you ask “what time is it” in Korean?

One of the simplest time phrases you’ll want to know is how you can ask for the time in Korean:

지금 몇 시예요? (jigeum myeot siyeyo?)

What time is it (now)?

In fact, we have already covered this in our lessons about telling time in Korean, which we have linked below. It may be a good moment to check out that article once again to refresh your memory on how to tell the time in Korean. You’ll also know how to answer time-related questions such as this and vocabulary on time such as “ten o’clock,” “seven o’clock,” and more.

If you have yet to learn Korean in terms of telling time in Korean, we highly recommend that you learn that article’s contents first before coming back here to continue with today’s lesson!

Time Expressions in Korean

We have listed different time expressions in Korean categorized into hours, minutes, days, weeks, months, etc. These will be helpful when talking with your friends in Korea and with other Korean people. Knowing this makes a whole lot of difference in your daily life in South Korea.

Time Expressions for Hours

Time to get to the meat of this lesson and start going through different time-related expressions used in South Korea. Firstly we will go over expressions dedicated to hours.

With the examples below, you can indicate a specific time when something happened in the past. Make sure to practice to surely get the hang of it!


“1 hour ago” in Korean

To express “1 hour ago” in Korean, you’ll need the Native Korean number system to express the number 1. You’ll also use the terms 시간 (sigan) for “hour” and 전 (jeon) for “ago.”

The expression for “1 hour ago” in the Korean language is:

1 시간 전 (han sigan jeon)

Sample sentence:

그 버스는 한 시간 전에 떠났어요. (geu beoseuneun han sigan jeone tteonasseoyo.)

The bus left an hour ago.

“2 hours ago” in Korean

Similar to “1 hour ago,” the time expression “2 hours ago” uses the native Korean number system and the Korean words 시간 (sigan) and 전 (jeon).

시간 (sigan) means “hour,” and 전 (jeon) means “ago.”

The expression for “2 hours ago” in Korean is:

2 시간 전 (du sigan jeon)

Sample sentence:

2 시간 전에 저는 헬스장에 갔어요. (du sigan jeone helseujange gasseoyo.)

I went to the gym 2 hours ago.

Expressing the same thought using different hours from the examples given above is simple. You just need to replace them with other Korean numbers, such as by 3 or by 10 and retain “간 전 (sigan jeon).”

“Every hour” in Korean

There are a number of ways to say “every hour” in Korean.

This can be expressed using the terms 매 (mae) and 마다 (mada). Both terms mean “every.”

One way to express “every hour” in Korean is:

매시 (maesi)

You can also write and say it as follows:

매시간 (maesigan)

Alternatively, you may also like to express it this way:

1 시간마다 (han siganmada)

“Every hour or two” in Korean

With the help of the previous phrase, 1 시간마다 (han siganmada), which means “every hour” in Korean, we already have an idea of how to say “every hour or two.” The expression that you can use is:

한두 시간마다 (handu siganmada)

한 (han) means “one,” and 두 (du) means “two” in the Native Korean number system.

Alternatively, you may also want to know how to say “in an hour or two.” In that case, you’ll say this:

한두시간에 (handusigane)

Time Expressions for Minutes

For this section, we will be learning about expressions for a time in Korean in terms of minutes. Keep in mind that minutes use Sino-Korean numbers. To know more about Sino-Korean numbers, you can read our article on Korean numbers linked at the bottom of this article.


“5 minutes ago” in Korean

With this expression, you can say how many minutes have passed since something has happened. You’ll first write the number, followed by the term for “minutes” in Korean, which is 분 (bun), and 전 (jeon) which translates to “ago.”

Let’s start with “5 minutes ago.” You can express this phrase as:

5 분 전 (obun jeon)

“40 minutes ago” in Korean

Using the same terms 분 (bun) and 전 (jeon), the time expression for “40 minutes ago” in the Korean language is:

40분 전 (sasipbun jeon)

Just as with hours, the format remains the same. You just need to change the numbers. You may notice and remember that hours and minutes use different number systems.

Do you need a refreshment on the two numeral systems in Korean? Read our article on Korean numbers that we linked below, and you’ll remember all the numbers by heart in no time!

“Every 15 minutes” in Korean

Next up is the expression for “every 15 minutes” in the Korean language. By now, you have already encountered the vocabulary used for this phrase from the examples above. These are 마다 (mada) which means “every,” and 분 (bun), which means “minutes,”

Here, we will use the number 15, which translates to 십오 (sibo) in Korean. “Every 15 minutes” would then be written like this:

15분마다 (sibobunmada)

If you want to say “once every 15 minutes” specifically, you’ll say this:

15분에 한 번씩 (sibobune han beonssik)

And here is how you say something along the lines of “every 15 to 20 minutes”:

15분에서 20분 (sibobuneso isipbun)

And, as usual, you can switch the number 15 to any number, and the structure will stay the same.

Time Expressions for Days

Now that we have a better understanding of some time expressions for hours and minutes, let’s move on to some handy time expressions on days.


“One Day Ago” in Korean

The expression for “one day ago” can be expressed using the terms 하루 (haru) and 전 (jeon). The term 하루 (haru) means “one day” while 전 (jeon) means “ago.”

You can express “one day ago” in Korean as:

하루 전에 (haru jeone)

This Korean expression can also be used to say “a day before.”

Sample sentence:

하루 전에 계획이 변동되었어요. (haru jeone gyehoegi byeondongdoeeosseoyo)

The plan changed a day ago.

“Two Days Ago” in Korean

The expression for “two days ago” in Korean is:

이틀 전에 (iteul jeone)

This expression also uses the term 전 (jeon), and 이틀 means “two days” or “a couple of days.”

“Three Days Ago” in Korean

Lastly, let’s have the expression “three days ago” in Korean. This expression doesn’t use the term 전 (jeon). It doesn’t follow the two previous expressions.

Instead, the expression for “three days ago” in Korean is as follows:

그끄저께 (geukkeujeokke)

This expression means “three days ago” or “two days before yesterday.”

Sadly, as you may notice, there is no one clear pattern to follow with these. You simply have to memorize them by heart. Thankfully, when it comes to numbers surpassing these ones, like four days ago, five days ago, and so on, the clear pattern emerges, and you can use it for the other “days ago” expressions. For example, six days ago is expressed like this:

6일 전에 (yugil jeone)

“A Few Days Ago” in Korean

There are two main ways in which you can express “a few days ago” in the Korean language.

The first way to say it is:

수일 전에 (suil jeone)

The term 수일 (suil) means “a few days” or “several days.”

Sample sentence:

그는 수일 전에 서울로 올라왔어요. (geuneun suil jeone seoullo ollawasseoyo)

He came to Seoul a few days ago.

The second way to say “a few days ago” is:

며칠 전에 (myeochil jeone)

The term 며칠 (myeochil) means the same as 수일 (suil), which is “a few days” or “several days. However, 며칠 (myeochil) can also mean “how many days.”

Sample sentence:

그녀는 며칠 전에 한 말을 부인했어요. (geunyeoneun myeochil jeone han mareul buinhaesseoyo)

She denied what she said a few days ago.

“Every Other Day” in Korean

You can say “every other day” in Korean is as:

하루 걸러 (haru geolleo)

“Everyday” in Korean

There are different expressions that you can use to say “everyday” in Korean, aka “daily.” Here’s the first one:

매일 (maeil)

Another way of saying “everyday” is through this adjective:

일상적 (ilsangjeok)

Sometimes, even this word can be used:

일상 (ilsang)

However, please note that the above term means “everyday life” more accurately than simply “everyday.”

“Today” in Korean

The expression for “today” in the Korean language is as follows:

오늘 (oneul)

Sample sentence:

오늘 날씨는 흐리다. (oneul nalssineun heurida)

The weather is cloudy today.

We also have a separate article that focuses on how to say “today” in Korean. Also, for more similar expressions of time, you may also want to take a look at our article on Korean adverbs, specifically its section for time-related adverbs.

Time Expressions for Weeks

Next, let’s take a look at some time expressions that you can use to describe weeks in Korean. The term for “week” in Korean is 주 (ju) which you will find in the expressions below.


“Every Week” in Korean

The Korean word to use if you want to say “every week” is.

매주 (maeju)

Sample sentence:

이 잡지는 매주 발행되었어요. ( i japjineun maeju balhaengdoeeosseoyo.)

This magazine is published every week.

“Every other week” in Korean

The expression for “every other week” in the Korean language is as follows:

격주로 (gyeokjuro)

If you’d like to specifically say “once every two weeks,” you may also use this below expression:

두 주에 한 번씩 (du jue han beonssik)

“Last week” in Korean

If you’d like to refer to something that happened last week, the expression you can use is:

지난주 (jinanju)

This expression is made up of two words, which are 지난 (jinan) and 주 (ju). 지난 (jinan) means “last” while 주 (ju) means “week.”

Sample sentence:

지난주에 친구랑 만났어요. (jinanjue chingurang mannasseoyo.)

I met a friend last week.

“This week” in Korean

The expression for “this week” in the Korean language is as follows:

이번 주 (ibeon ju)

In this expression, it consists of the words 이번 (ibeon) which literally translates as “this time” and 주 (ju), which means “week.”

Sample sentence:

이번 주는 스케줄이 꽉 찼어요. (ibeon juneun seukejuri kkwak chasseoyo.)

My schedule is full this week.

“Next week” in Korean

The expression for “next week” in Korean is as follows:

다음주 (daeumju)

The expression 다음주 (daeumju) is made up of the words 다음 (daeum), which means “next,” and 주 (ju), which means “week,” forming the Korean word for “next week.”

Sample sentence:

저는 다음 주에 휴가를 갈 거예요. (jeoneun daeum jue hyugareul gal geoyeyo.)

I’m going on vacation next week.

Time Expression for Months

Now that you’ve learned and memorized the above time expressions, it’s time to take a look at time expressions specifically related to months. Two terms translate to “month” in Korean. These are 월 (wol) and 달 (dal).


“Every Month” in Korean

There are a few different expressions for this below, using both terms for “month.”

Perhaps the most common expression for “every month” in the Korean language is this:

매달 (maedal)

This expression is from the terms 매 (mae), meaning “every,” and 달(dal), which is “month.”

However, you may also use the ones below. You’ll notice that the term 월 (wol) is also used.

달마다 (dalmada)

매월 (maewol)

“Monthly” in Korean

Another term that you can use to express every month or monthly, especially when speaking of reports and schedules, is this:

월차 (wolcha)

Finally, another great expression to use for “monthly” is this. It is especially used when speaking of financial matters, such as monthly allowances or bills.

다달이 (dadari)

“Every Other Month” in Korean

There are two ways in which you can express “every other month” or “bimonthly” in the Korean language. They are as follows:

격월 (gyeogwol)

두 달에 한 번 (du dare han beon)

The latter one more specifically translates as “once every two months” if you want to express yourself perfectly nuanced.

“Last Month” in Korean

The expression for “last month” in Korean is as follows.

It is formed with the terms “지난 (jinan) which means last, and 달 (month).

지난달 (jinandal)

“This Month” in Korean

Similar to the sequence above, the expression for “this month” in Korean is:

이번달 (ibeondal)

This time, we used the term 이번 (ibeon) which means “this.”

“Next Month” in Korean

Lastly, here’s how to express “next month” in the Korean language:

다음달 (daeumdal)

As you can notice, when you memorize these three terms, memorizing how to express weeks and months suddenly become a lot easier:

지난 (jinan) – last

이번 (ibeon) – this

다음 (daeum) – next

Other Time Expressions in Korean

Finally, how about we go over some other time expressions that may prove useful to you?

Other Time expressions

“These Days” in Korean

There are several ways with which you can express “nowadays” or “these days” in Korean.

You can use the word 요즘 (yojeum) to say “nowadays” or “these days.”

Sample sentence:

요즘 날씨가 더워요. (yojeum nalssiga deowoyo.)

It’s hot these days.

Another way to express this is with 오늘날에 (oneulnare).

Sample sentence:

오늘날에 스마트폰은 필수예요. (oneullare seumateuponeun pilsuyeyo.)

Smartphones are a necessity today.

The third way to say this expression is 이즈음에 (ijeueume).

Sample sentence:

부산에서 이즈음에 도서관은 만들어지고 있어요. (busaneseo ijeueume doseogwaneun mandeureojigo isseoyo.)

A library is being built in Busan around this time.

“Recently” in Korean

There are two words you can use to express “recently” or “lately” in Korean.

They are 근간에 (geungane) and 최근에 (choegeune).

Sample sentences:

근간에 잘 지내고 있는지 궁금해요. (geungane jal jinaego inneunji gunggeumhaeyo.)

I wonder if you’re doing well these days.

최근에 엄청 추웠어요. (choegeune eomcheong chuwosseoyo.)

It’s really cold these days.

“Right Now” in Korean

There are two words with which you can express “right now” in Korean.

You can use the words 지금 (jigeum) and 이제 (ije) to say “now” or “right now” in Korean.

지금 (jigeum) is used to say “now” when you’re referring to an action or something that’s currently taking place. You can use it for talking about a moment in time right now.

Sample sentences:

저는 지금 무척 피곤해요. (jeoneun jigeum mucheok pigonhaeyo.)

I’m very tired now.

저는 지금 영화를 보고 있어요. (jeoneun jigeum yeonghwareul bogo isseoyo.)

I’m watching a movie now.

이제 (ije), on the other hand, is used when you want to show the contrast between the past and the present. You can also use this for talking about something that’s happening now and continuing into the future.

Sample sentences:

저는 이제 졸업했으니까 취직하겠습니다. (jeoneun ije joreopaesseunikka chwijikagetseumnida.)

Now that I’ve graduated, I’m going to look for a job.

이제 어두워졌어요. (ije eoduwojyeosseoyo.)

It’s dark now.

“Soon” in Korean

There are a couple of ways with which you can express “soon” or “shortly” in Korean.

They can be expressed with the words 금방 (geumbang), 금세 (geumse), and 곧 (got).

The term 곧 (got) can also be used to say “at once,” or “right away.”

“Later” in Korean

This is the word with which you can express “later” in the Korean language:

나중에 (najunge)

If you want to say later, as in after doing something else you’re specifically mentioning, you may also use this expression:

후에 (hue)


Didn’t time just fly by while we were learning all of this? Hopefully, you found this lesson useful! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and feel free to use this article for practice in writing and pronunciation.

To help you further with mastering these expressions, we have several more articles that can help you out. Here are some of them:

In fact, how about showing us in the comments some sample sentences you’ve been able to make with these newly learned time expressions?

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4 thoughts on “Korean time expressions – How to say the correct date and hour”

  1. This is a great piece, I’ve used it to make myself a much shorter cheat sheet to put into my Korean learning notebook. The only thing I feel it’s missing is year related- at least last year, because I believe it’s different than the other “lasts” listed here, not sure if anything else related to year (this year, next year) is different than the terms used here. But I think at least adding last year would be a good addition.

  2. Hi, thank you for this lesson and hard work you put in it, I’m glad I have one place where all the basics are explained in a simple way 🙂 I have one question, how can I say “earlier”, for example when I want to say in conversation “Earlier you told me you like flowers, which ones do you like most?”

    1. Hi Weronika, You can use 아까 or 저번에 for ““Earlier you told me …”, 아까 would mean “a short while ago, a minute ago” and 저번에 means “a few days ago, some time ago”

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