If you already know how to
say numbers in Italian, it is very easy to say what time is it
in Italian. The official rule says that time must be expressed
in a 24:00 basis; thus at airports, train stations, newspapers,
business and official information you will see the numbers 1 to
24 referring to what time it is. Informally and among friends it
is common to use the 12:00 notation to express time and so the
context indicates if it is 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM (15:00). Sometime
you will find a comma replacing the usual colon in a timetable.
So, you will see 6,00 instead of 6:00. The word "o'clock"
doesn't have an equivalent in Italian.
* There are two two ways to ask somebody what
time it is; both are translated exactly in the same way in
English and have the same meaning. The most common is "Che
ore sono?" which is plural. It is expected that the answer
will be 2 or a great number of hours.
The second is "Che ora è?" which
require the answer to be in singular. There are only three
situations when it is possible to answer in singular: noon,
midnight or 1:00 o'clock.
So (you are thinking) if I am asking 'what
time is it?' I don't know if it is 1:00 or 2:00, so what should
I ask? Well, if you have no idea what time is it, just ask "Che
ore sono?" if it is 1:10 you will get the answer "È una ora"; if
it is 2:10 you will get "Sono le due". If you already know that
it is noon, midnight or one o'clock and something. It is
convenient to ask "Che ora è?".