What are the difference between 时间 and 时候. They both means time as far as I know

Also, what are the difference between 点 and 小时 which both means hour

And can you give some examples?

  • I think this sentence addressed the difference clearly between 时间 and 时候: 你什么时候有时间? – dan Nov 6 at 12:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted

时间 and 时候 are both related to time, but their usage is a bit different.

时间 means the "physical time". For example 你在什么时间睡觉? What time do you sleep?

时候 means "when". For example: 你什么时候睡觉? When do you sleep?

点 and 小时 are used differently. 小时 is used when you actually calculate the time taken in terms of hour. For example, 我睡了一个小时。I slept for 1 hour.

点 is used to ask the precise time at the moment. For example, 现在几点了? What time is it now?

In English, you don't ask "What hour is now", instead, you ask "What time is now". In mandarin, it's also the same. You don't ask "现在几小时了", instead you ask "现在几点了".

Hope this help :)

  • I still think 时间/时候 is interchangeable – 神秘德里克 Nov 6 at 8:11
  • It really depends on the situation. For example, if you ask: 现在是什么时间/时候了? It still makes sense. However, in order to prevent confusion, if you want to ask about the specific time, just use 时间. – J.Bond Nov 6 at 8:14

時間 and 时候 are not interchangeable

"現在時間是下午五時三十分" (the current time is 5:30 PM)" You can't replace 時間 with 时候 and say "現在時候是下午五時三十分"

when referring a specific moment, you need to use '時間', not '時候'

"看到楓葉變黃的时候你就知秋天已到" (When you see the maple leaves turn yellow, you know autumn has arrived). You can't replace 时候 with 時間 and say "看到楓葉變䔈的时間你就知秋天已到"

when referring 'a non-specific moment' (we don't know when the maple leaves turn yellow) ,you need to use '時候', not '時間'

楓葉由黃變紅所需的時間大約是一兩天 (The time it takes for the maple leaf to turn from yellow to red is about one or two days.) You can't replace 時間 with 时候 and say "楓葉由黃變紅所需的时候大約是一兩天"

when referring 'a time span' (the actual time it needs for the maple leaf to turn from yellow to red) you need to use '時間', not '時候'

Also, what are the difference between 点 and 小时 which both means hour

点/时 = 'O'clock' e.g. '下午五点' = '下午五时' = 'five O'clock afternoon'

小时 = 'hour' e.g. '五小时' = 'five hours'

Notice:

有時間 = have time ('時間' here is a general term for 'time' itself)

有時候 = sometimes ('時候' here is a general term for 'moment in time')

Putting it simple:

时候: moment
时间: time

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