How Do YOU Tell the Time?

Half EightA quick post  which was prompted by a conversation I had with my friend Kelly; she flew into London on Sunday and we popped over to Paris on Monday, me for a day whilst Kelly won’t be leaving until Thursday. I’m not jealous, not at all.

Whilst we wandered around, at various stages in the day one or other of us asked the other what the time was. It was at this point we seemed to discover a difference in how we each told the time or at least we discovered I  tell the time in different ways and I wasn’t even aware of it.

It seems that my main quirk  is when it’s half past the hour. I say either, “It’s eight thirty” or, “It’s half eight” what I seldom say is “It’s half past eight.” It would appear that removing that “past” is not very common in the US which surprised me as I assumed they naturally preferred the shortest way of saying things. I mean look how they removed the letter U from so many words!?

My “half eight” started a conversation on whether it was a British thing, a Scottish thing or a unique to me thing and I couldn’t really answer as I haven’t really paid too much attention to either what I said or what others said to me if I asked.

I’m not quite sure why I flit between saying things like, “seventeen minutes past eight” and “eight seventeen” but I’ve always omitted the past when it’s half past the hour because I always assumed it was obvious that when I say, “half eight” I was really saying, “half past eight”, or at least I was until I was until Kelly questioned it.

On the Eurostar coming back to London yesterday the thought lingered in my head, “What do other people say?” so why don’t you leave a comment telling me how you respond when it’s half-past the hour. Do you say “half eight”, “half past eight” or “eight thirty” or perhaps you say something else??

What would be even more interesting is knowing what you say if English isn’t your native language.


  1. I know my pronunciation of a lot of words changed (often without me realising it) once I left Glasgow mainly because the majority of people complained I spoke too fast and words that were common in Glasgow were unknown in London. The letter A is one I do know has changed and I’ve adopted the long southern /aa/ which always gets me marked down as a ‘snob’ when I venture into pubs north of the border. Instead of pronouncing “lager” /Lag-er/ I say /Laa-ger/

  2. I’m pretty sure I did the “haff past” before my three years in Edinburgh too though. I’m sure I’ve picked up little pieces of Yorkshire, Edinburgh and Manchester along the way where I’ve lived as much as I ever did any Liverpudlian. (And a few things which come more naturally in French than English from when I lived there – but nowhere near as much as I used to, since I never use it now.)

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