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Thread: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    I've been listening to Pimsleur (yeah, I know it's bad Russian... I'm just doing it because it's hands-free learning from the iPod)...

    I'm on course 3 (the last) now, and throughout the course I've noticed that the American instructor is giving the time in a very strange way which is incredibly distracting to me.
    He always says "Ten of three" instead of "ten to three" plus a few similar oddities. He never gives the time in what I consider to be the "normal" way...

    Is there actually a difference in how time is given in US vs UK English?
    (I have never heard that there is... )

    At first I thought that the instructor was just trying to be helpful in using some expression that was closer to the Russian expression in it's meaning.
    But what he is using is not closer, in fact, it's confusing -- at least for me..

    Anyone knows anything about this?

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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    I've noticed that the American instructor is giving the time in a very strange way which is incredibly distracting to me.
    He always says "Ten of three" instead of "ten to three" plus a few similar oddities.
    It looks like a literal translation of the Russian construction: десять минут третьего (genitive, that is "of..." in English).
    That means "ten past two", by the way.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    "Of" the hour is generally how time is expressed in the US: 10 of 3. (the "of" is very clipped like "o'."
    If you want to use "to" then "minutes" is usually used: 10 minutes to 3.
    Of course, 10 to 3 is possible but not common as it doesn't glide easily off the lazy American tongue.
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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    "Of" the hour is generally how time is expressed in the US: 10 of 3. (the "of" is very clipped like "o'."
    If you want to use "to" then "minutes" is usually used: 10 minutes to 3.
    Of course, 10 to 3 is possible but not common as it doesn't glide easily off the lazy American tongue.
    I'm sorry but I completely disagree.

    My father is the only person I every hear use expressions like "10 of 3". Everyone else I know says "10 (minutes) to 3" or "10 til 3".

    I can't comment on differences with the UK since I don't know Br. English intimately.

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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    He always says "Ten of three" instead of "ten to three" plus a few similar oddities.
    Like paulb I don't normally hear people say time this way but apparantly some people do in the United States, enough so that it appears in dictionaries:
    of . . . 14 US —used to indicate that there is a specified amount of time left before the next hour begins ▪ It's a quarter of [=to, before] ten. [=9:45] ▪ 10 (minutes) of 10 [=9:50]
    Merriam Webster's Learners Dictionary (2009) http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/of
    of . . . [11 a —used as a function word to indicate the position in time of an action or occurrence <died of a Monday> b : before <quarter of ten>
    Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary (2009) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/of
    of . . . US used in saying what time is It's ten (minutes) of five (=ten minutes before five o'clock).
    Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2009) http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define. ... &dict=CALD

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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Ken!!! Good to see you!!

    Johanna, I actually had to stop and think about this one. What a good question!

    I say... of, to, and 'til.

    It maybe a case that I do so because I have lived in so many places and picked up these different versions in different areas and just never settled on one way and now just use them interchangeably. I'm not certain if I use one more than the others or one in more formal settings or what?
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom

    I say... of, to, and 'til.
    D: All of the above. Unless doing something insane like noting navigation, them "thirteen fifty".
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  8. #8
    Hanna
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    Re: Telling the time in US English? Difference to UK English?

    Thanks everyone!
    The reason this is particularly confusing for me is because I am not a native speaker of English myself.

    Occassionally (rarely) I get caught out by something - recently it tends to be US-specific expressions because I don't get exposed to them so much..

    In my previous jobs a senior American boss had a bit of a "thing" for me and kept coming up and saying COMPLETELY incomprehensible things... He was quite the big cheese there, so I just smiled and played along even though I hardly understood a word he was saying. To this day I have no idea of half the things he was on about. "Big Al".... ROFL!!!! All my colleagues thought it was hilarious because they knew I couldn't understand him. He grew up in Brooklyn.

    Now I got to check my understanding of Pimsleur against what Olya is saying.

    Darn!!! Is it possible that the Pimsleur speaker was saying "ten PAST x" and I understood it as "ten TO x...."? That would be incredibly confusing...

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