Hi,

In the attached file, the answer key says that the answers to the points number 6 and 8 are as follows:

6. three minutes past one.
8. seventeen minutes past four.

While for the other points like the point 5, it says:

5. twenty-five past eight.

My questions are:

1. Why was the word 'minutes' used in points 6 & 8 and not in 5?

2. Is it possible to say 6 & 8 without 'minutes' as follows?

6. three past one.
8. seventeen past four.

3. Is it possible to say 5 with minutes?
5. twenty-five minutes past eight.

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Original Post
Hello Izzy,

That's an intriguing question. I would say that, in BrE at least, these are the predominant forms (although the alternatives might still be heard):

3 minutes past 8
5 past 8
11 minutes past 8
10 past 8
(a) quarter past 8
16 minutes past 8
20 past 8
22 minutes past 8
25 past 8
half past 8
25 to 9
20 to 9
(a) quarter to 9
10 to 9
9 minutes to 9
5 to 9
3 minutes to 9

Thus for numbers of minutes that are not divisible by 5, minutes are usually mentioned.

Best wishes,

MrP
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quote:
Thus for numbers of minutes that are not divisible by 5, minutes are usually mentioned.

Thanks a lot, Mr Pedantic.

Believe it or not, this was the first thing that came to my mind before I even post the question. Yet I just wanted to make sure my hunch was correct.
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This may be true about the times with numbers divisible by 5 not having 'minutes' when being read.

However, I find there are many, many ways to deliver the time, especially by radio announcers. I think they try to find new, different and 'interesting' ways to say the time.

First, we all use the digital time: two-thirty-two, one-oh-four, eleven-fifteen, etc.

Then, I have heard all kinds of fanciness, something like these:

It's twenty-four minutes to one.
It's twenty-four minutes before one.
It's fifteen past three.
It's fifteen minutes after three.

and many more!

Let's pay attention and add some of these creative time-telling phrases to this thread.
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I remember the first time I ever asked a Briton the time. Instead of saying three thirty or half past three, she simply said, "It's half three."

That seems to be another way to say thirty minutes after the hour in the UK.
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I lived over in Germany for many years, and when telling time, the Germans also use the word "half" (halb) and then the hour. Unfortunately, a word-for-word translation of "half three" into German would mean 2:30.

Things got really confusing when I ended up with British neighbors in Germany. I had become used to the German system of using "half", so the first few times my British neighbors said something such as "Let's plan to leave at half six", I ended up accusing them of being an hour late when they showed up at 6:30 rather than at 5:30.
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That's a great anecdote, Amy. Thanks for sharing it!
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Hi Rachel and Richard

Do people use "of" rather than "to" where you live? In my neck of the woods, it is extremely common to hear people say things such as "It's quarter of three" (2:45) or "It's twenty of four" (3:40). I've heard this in many other parts of the US as well.
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I've certainly heard of used that way, Amy, but I think in my part of the US (Florida) and where I'm originally from (New York), the use of to is more prevalent.
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Yes, I've heard 'of' instead of 'to' to show the minutes before an hour.

I don't know whether it's said more in some regions than in others. In my mind, it seems that expressions like 'twenty of four' used to be said more than they are now.
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Very interesting

Dear Amy,

I don't quite understand what is meant by this. Please elaborate.

quote:
a word-for-word translation of "half three" into German would mean 2:30.
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quote:
a word-for-word translation of "half three" into German would mean 2:30.

I had also heard of this, Ismael. It seems when saying "halb elf" ("half eleven"), Germans mean "half to eleven" instead of "half past eleven." That's why Amy had problems with them because they do not correspond with each other in English and German.
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quote:
I don't know whether it's said more in some regions than in others. In my mind, it seems that expressions like 'twenty of four' used to be said more than they are now.

I have seen many textbooks (both old and new ones), but in none of them I have ever seen "of" used for telling time!!! Could you guess why?! May it be regarded as non-standard?!
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