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Old 07-10-2011, 04:51 PM   #1
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Telling time in U. K. English

In British books, the time is always given as something along the lines of "twenty-five minutes to six", which causes me to have to imagine a clock face at 6:00 and then push the minute hand back to the 7 mark. I would automatically say "five thirty five" instead. Even "half past six" sounds a bit archaic to me. Other than citing timetable/schedule entries, do our British friends say "five thirty five" in conversation? Or does that sound ... I dunno ... wonky there? Is this a generational thing (although I'm an old goat myself)?
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:59 PM   #2
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Personally, in everyday conversation, I would always say "twenty five to six" (or similar). 5:35 sounds a bit formal to my ear.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:01 PM   #3
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I think it varies but I myself use the "twenty-five minutes to six" form, although in actual conversation (say a stranger asking the time) it goes something more like :

"Alright mate, got the time?"
"Twenty-five to."
"Six?"
"Yeah."
"Cheers"

We don't really say "minutes" as that's a bit formal, it does mean we round up a bit, it's always "quarter to six" rather than fifteen or fourteen or thirteen.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:10 PM   #4
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Yes,
25 to whatever or quarter to, likewise, 20 past etc, not very often five thirty-five

Howard
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:30 PM   #6
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:42 PM   #7
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Whatever comes to mind, never think about it, sometimes to the hour , sometimes past the hour............

Our national psyche has been liberated, didn't you know ?

The pubs don't have to shut at a set time now, so frankly, my dears, we don't give a ...... monkeys, probably, damn's so common.

And Chris is right, minutes don't come into it much, no time for 'em.

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Old 07-10-2011, 05:45 PM   #8
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I suspect it's largely a matter of whether or not you grew up with analog clocks or digital. If you're used to digital clocks, it's quite natural to give the exact time. With analog clocks - ones with a clock face - it's rather more natural to round off based on the position of the hands. At 5:45, the minute hand is on the left side, and it therefore closer to the next hour than the last one.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:50 PM   #9
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I and everyone around me don't say "twenty to six," we say "twenty of six" and the to form has always sounded more like a score to me than a time.
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadon View Post
I and everyone around me don't say "twenty to six," we say "twenty of six" and the to form has always sounded more like a score to me than a time.
Not in the UK, which is what the OP was asking (don't know where you live). It would always be something "to" or "past" the hour.
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilbo1967 View Post
Personally, in everyday conversation, I would always say "twenty five to six" (or similar). 5:35 sounds a bit formal to my ear.
I had though "five thirty five" would seem less formal.

In the States, I have heard "quarter of six" but it's rare and pretty much archaic now vs. five-forty-five.

Another one that's U. K. specific is "It's gone seven!" (U. S. = "It's after seven!")


If you're scheduling say a dentist apppointment, would you expect the receptionist to say, "On that date I have something open at twenty past six?" Here you'd likely get " ... I can do six twenty"
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SeaBookGuy View Post
I had though "five thirty five" would seem less formal.

In the States, I have heard "quarter of six" but it's rare and pretty much archaic now vs. five-forty-five.

Another one that's U. K. specific is "It's gone seven!" (U. S. = "It's after seven!")


If you're scheduling say a dentist apppointment, would you expect the receptionist to say, "On that date I have something open at twenty past six?" Here you'd likely get " ... I can do six twenty"
Same in the UK when you're doing appointments etc except more likely to be "Is six twenty all right/OK?"... twenty past six is conversational...
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by elcreative View Post
Same in the UK when you're doing appointments etc except more likely to be "Is six twenty all right/OK?"... twenty past six is conversational...
That seems pretty much spot on to me.
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:29 PM   #14
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At least you don't need a calculator to tell the time.

Try "12 stone 4."
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:30 PM   #15
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I say it's five thirty five but finish with, "and all is well!"
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