Additional French Time Patterns ?

Patrick Andries patrick.andries at
Tue May 5 14:43:39 CDT 2015

Le 5 mai 2015 à 14 h 37, Bérenger Enselme a écrit :
> Hello,
> FWIW, that is not quite what the government of Canada recommends:
> What the document says is that in technical settings, such as time
> tables, "15:10" is the preferred format, whereas it should be written
> "15 h 10" elsewhere (in texts for example).

This is indeed what Ramat says (I quoted him as my Canadian style guide) 
for time tables. But it is not the only way to write time tables. In 
fact, I don't recall this ":" notation in European French before 
computers started printing time tables for the public. In old paper « 
Indicateur des chemins de fer » (train schedules) in France, the 
separator between hours and minutes was in fact often a space... Most of 
the rest of the time, just a period : "12.32" as in the two links below 
for Belgium. The space or period convention were (are ?) also used in 
the Netherlands.

This being said, recently train schedules in Belgium are using the 
default American styled ":" , but notice in the picture below how the 
delay is written with the 'h' notation (+0h26 in red)...

Spaces and periods as common separators in Time tables in French 
speaking Europe : 
(French, space) (Belgian) (Belgian, interesting also 
because the month is displayed as I learned it : Roman numerals to 
distinguish from days)

The problem is one of context. Ramat also says that if the day of the 
week appears in full then the "h" notation should be used: "mercredi 13 
h 15" thus.

Now this is what Ramat and the Public Works of Canada site say, but the 
Quebec government site officially dealing with the French language says 
that the general format is "HH ' h ' mm" but it may **sometimes** be 
represented, for instance, in time tables as HH:mm.

«L'heure peut *parfois *être représentée de façon entièrement numérique, 
par exemple dans les horaires des gares ou des aéroports. On se sert 
alors des deux-points pour séparer les heures et les minutes. »

This would suggest to me that the default is HH ' h ' mm and in some 
contexts (« sometimes ») HH:mm. But, arguably, this is debatable in a 
Canadian context.

Other style guides (French and Swiss) don't even mention at all the ':' 
format, they only speak about the format with an ' h ' as separator.

The ' 20 h 15' format is quite common for schedules in Europe.

Film festival schedules :

Library :

Cinema/Movie theatre :

Bus :

P. A.

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