Telling Time in Chamorro

How to tell time in Chamorro

The word “time” can be translated three different ways in Chamorro:

oraTime as in telling time. “I ora” means “the hour”.
tiempoGeneral period of time, which can be used when talking about seasons.
biaheAn instance of time, as in a number of times.

In this article, we’ll be talking about i ora, or “the hour”. It’s easy to tell time in Chamorro. You just have to remember your numbers.

How to Tell Time in Chamorro

What time is it? Ki ora?

Ala una1 o’clock
Alas dos2 o’clock
Alas tres3 o’clock
Alas kuåtro4 o’clock
Alas singko5 o’clock
Alas sais6 o’clock
Alas siette7 o’clock
Alas ochu8 o’clock
Alas nuebi9 o’clock
Alas dies10 o’clock
Alas onse11 o’clock
Alas dosse12 o’clock

Note that 1 o’clock is different from the rest as it is just “ala” and not “alas” and the word for one is the Spanish feminine form “una”.

Beyond the Hour

If we wish to say that it is half past the hour we would use the expression i media , which is a direct borrowing of the Spanish phrase meaning “and a half”

Pot ihemplo: 7:30  ~ Alas siette i media.

You can also specify the exact minute, if you wish to be specific. For example, to say it is 10:20 in the morning, you would say:

Alas dies bente

Or you could also say:

Bente pasåo alas dies, which literally means “20 past 10”.

NOTE: When giving the time, Chamorros like to give a general idea of what the time is. They’ll just say it is para (to) or pasao (past) a specific time.

Para alas 5It’s 5 o’clock.
10 para alas 5It’s 10 (minutes) ’til 5 o’clock.
Pasao alas 5It’s past 5 o’clock.
10 pasao alas 5It’s 10 past 5 o’clock.

Adding Time of Day

If you want to be more specific as to the time of day, add the following expressions after the time:

…gi ega’anin the morning
…gi chatanmakin the wee hours of the morning; before dawn
…gi talo’aniin the afternoon
…gi pupuengiin the evening
…gi tatalo’ puengi at midnight

To say, seven in the morning, you would say:

Alas siette gi ega’an.

The words oga’an and chatanmak are both used for the morning. Chatanmak refers to the period right before daybreak. As soon as there’s light, it is considered oga’an. So depending on where you are in the world when you use oga’an may be different.

The word talo’åni literally means “middle of the day”, and refers to the time of day when the sun is at its highest. We note this only because you may hear “afternoon” used differently among speakers. In English, afternoon is any time that is after noon, that is 12 pm, through the evening. In Chamorro, you may hear someone say “Alas 11 gi ega’an”, following how time is spoken in English. Or you might also hear “Alas 11 gi talo’åni”, taking into account that at 11 a.m. the sun is already reaching its highest point.

How to Ask for the Time

We already learned how to give the time, so let’s take a look at the ways you can ask for the time.

The main phrase you need to know is:

Ki ora? What time is it?

If you want to ask when a specific event is happening, like a party or movie, you would simply ask what time something is (that is, what time it’s happening).

Ki ora i movie? What time is the movie?

Ki ora i gipot? What time is the party?

If you want to ask a more complex question, such as what time someone did something or going to do something you would need to ask ki ora na… (what time is it that…)

To ask what time someone did something,

Ki ora na makmåta hao? What time did you wake up?

To ask what time someone is going to do something we use ki ora na with a future statement.

Ki ora na para un fatto?
What time will you arrive?

Ki ora na para u falak i tenda si David?
What time is David going to the store?

To ask what time something usually happens, we must employ the ongoing, or progressive, form of the verb.

Ki ora na makmamata hao?
What time do you wake up?

Ki ora na mamaigo’ hao?
What time do you sleep?

Ki ora na madadandan i kampana.
What time does the bell ring?

Ki ora na mabababa i Target?
What time does Target open?

Ki ora na humåhånao hao para i che’cho’-mu?
What time do you leave for work?


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