Inicio > Recursos Inglés > TELLING TIME (1)


14 / 04 / 2005

TELLING TIME (1): meaning and examples

Good morning. Today's Daily Vitamin is based on a question from Marc F. Marc wrote: I have a problem when I talk in English when I have to give an answer or talk about time. I always have trouble with "half past", "quarter past" and so on. Perhaps the easiest way to explain this, Marc, is to give you a lot of examples, and then summarise some important points: It's five o'clock in the morning. (5.00) It's quarter past five. (5.15 or 17.15) It's half past three. (3.30 or 15.30) It's half past two in the afternoon. (14.30) It's a quarter to two. (1.45 or 13:45) It's ten past eight. (8.10 or 20.10) It's twenty past seven in the morning. (7.20) It's twenty to ten. (9.40 or 21.40) It's twenty to ten at night. (21.40) It's ten p.m.. (22.00) It's ten a.m.. (10.00) A QUARTER... Notice that we use the indefinite article "a" before "quarter". We say A quarter to... and A quarter past... The indefinite article "a" is NOT included with other intervals of time: __half past... __twenty minutes to... __five past... O'CLOCK We only use "o'clock" on the hour (one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, etc.). THE 24-HOUR CLOCK In English it is much less common to write or say the 24-hour-clock times after 12.00 (e.g., 15.00, 18.30, etc.). We tend to distinguish the difference between 5.00 and 17.00 by three different methods: 1) The Context We'll meet for dinner at eight o'clock. Obviously, the speaker in this example means 20.00 and not 8.00, since we eat dinner in the evening or at night, not in the morning. 2) Adverbial Time Phrases We'll meet for dinner at eight o'clock in the evening. Another simple method of distinguishing exactly what time of the day you mean is the use of the adverbial phrases in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, AT night, tonight, this morning, etc. 3) A.M. or P.M. We'll meet for dinner at eight p.m. The letters a.m. are an abbreviation for the latin phrase ante meridiem, meaning between midnight and noon. The letters p.m. are an abbreviation for the latin phrase post meridiem, meaning between noon and midnight. a.m. = 24.00-12.00 p.m. = 12.00-24.00 Tomorrow we will finish up our review of time. If you have any questions so far, don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you very much for the question Marc. Enjoy the rest of your day!