Quarter of eight and half nine

Clock image

If someone told the time was quarter of eight, what would you understand by that?

As far as I can discover, quarter of eight is how some people in the USA refer to 7:45. Other ways to say the same thing include quarter to eight, quarter til(l) eight and seven forty-five. Does anybody in the English-speaking world say quarter before eight, or something else?

8:30 can be eight thirty, half past eight or half eight. I think the last one is only used in the UK. Does anybody say something different?

When learning other Germanic languages, such as Dutch and German, English speakers can get confused when hearing that the time is half eight – halb acht (German), half acht (Dutch) – we expect it to be 8:30, but it is in fact 7:30.

08:30 is half negen (Dutch), halb neun (German), halv ni (Danish / Norwegian), halv nio (Swedish), hálf níu (Icelandic), or half nine.

Is it as confusing for speakers of other Germanic languages learning English?

I’ve put together a page of ways to tell the time in English – comments and additions are very welcome.

3 thoughts on “Quarter of eight and half nine

  1. As a Canadian, I’ve never heard somebody say ‘quarter of 8’, we always say ‘quarter to 8’.

  2. Your “half” and “halb” are switched in your first Dutch/German example, FYI.

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