How to Convert Between Hours & Fractions of Hours

Instructor: Carla Palomino
In this lesson, learn how to convert time units so no one can trick you when you're given a time frame to do your homework or to clean your bedroom. Discover the basic rule for conversion and practice with time conversion.

Time and Time Conversion

Telling the time is very important. 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, great civilizations decided they needed to know the time of day, so they began to make clocks to organize their time more efficiently. Sun clocks, water clocks, time-sticks, and hourglasses are just some of the ways people used to keep track of time. These days, you're probably familiar with analog clocks that have hands and might hang on your kitchen wall, or digital clocks like on the computer you're using right now.

To convert means to transform, or to change something into a different form, and time can be converted just like length, weight, volume, and other kinds of measures. Imagine your mom says you have 1800 seconds to clean your bedroom if you want to go to your Sunday soccer game. You better know how to convert 1800 seconds into minutes so you have a better idea how fast to pick up your room. And you better hurry, because you only have 30 minutes! Yes, 1800 seconds and 30 minutes are the same.

Basic Time Conversion Rule

Time conversion may seem complicated but I will share a simple trick with you that will help you convert time without any problem. The basic rule is:

If you need to convert from a LARGER unit to a SMALLER unit, you need to MULTIPLY. You're making the number bigger since it takes more small units to make up the same amount as a bigger unit, and multiplication is all about making numbers bigger.

Convert from a larger unit to a smaller unit
convert time 1

If you need to convert from a SMALLER unit to a LARGER unit, you need to DIVIDE. You're making the number smaller - after all, it takes fewer bigger units to make up the same amount as a smaller unit - and, as you already know, division is all about making numbers smaller.

Convert from a smaller unit to a larger unit
convert time 2

How to Solve Time Conversion Problems

First, recall that there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. So how do we convert between these different measures of time? Let's practice with real problems.

Time conversion chart
convert time 3

Problem 1

It started raining at 10:00 am and it didn't stop until 1:00 pm. How many minutes did the rain last?

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