Boozilla, (edited ) avatar

I went to public school in the 80s and every classroom had a very large analog clock on the wall. Even back then, it mildly annoyed me when teachers and other adults would say “half past” and so on. It always sounded archaic to my ears, even 40+ years ago.

I also get annoyed when people say “two thousand and twenty-four” for the year. Just say “twenty twenty-four”. We didn’t say “one thousand nine-hundred and eighty-four” back in the day, we said “nineteen eighty-four”.


It goes

  • nineteen ninety-eight
  • nineteen ninety-nine
  • two thousand
  • two thousand one
  • two thousand two
  • two thousand nine
  • twenty ten
  • twenty eleven
  • etc
WhatsHerBucket, avatar

And stay offa mah lawn!


There was a solid decade where the pattern broke, and so e people didn’t get back into it.

Two thousand, two thousand one etc don’t really work as “twenty oh-one”, etc.

gregorum, (edited )

This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard the term “analog clock”.

Also, the title of the book (and film) is not 1984. It’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

But I’m not a boomer, I’m genx, so whatever. I’m outta heeeere… 😎

Haus avatar

It was all the rage in Radio Shack catalogs.


What else would you call an analog clock?


A clock


I was taught in the '80s that you shouldn't use 'and' in a number that isn't followed by a decimal portion (e.g. 23 and 4 hundredths). I've seen various back-and-forth on that topic over the years.

Boozilla, avatar

That sounds familiar. Applies to check writing, for those who still do that.


I think everybody puts too much emphasis on it being a strict generational thing while imo it’s mostly a force of habit.

I’m on my early 20s, and used to take around 10 seconds to read an analog clock. Fully digital mind. Bought an analog wrist watch this summer and merely 1-2 months into wearing it I started understanding it instantaneously and all of “half past” type phrases click immediately now.


I’m 38 and still take 10s to read an analog clock.

I do still say half past etc though. I don’t really associate them with digital vs analog

WeLoveCastingSpellz, (edited )

It’s becausee with digital clocks it’s easier to just read the exact time which used to be less convenient. So. Reading digital clocks easy: Juat read what you see. Reading traditionap clocks easy: quarters and halves are a great way to simplify and fasten the time that it takes to tell what time it exactly is.

Holyhandgrenade, avatar

Not in Norway lol. If you want to meet up at 11:20 you say “ti på halv tolv” meaning "ten minutes before half hour before twelve.
Yeah, it took me a while to wrap my head around it too.


I still hear people talk about the top and bottom of the hour all the time.


I’ve never heard those phrases in person, only when spoken on TV or radio. Whereabouts you from?


My or is based out of Midwest US, but my we have people scattered across the US.


Do you prefer the top or the bottom?

Zozano, (edited )

Since using AM and PM are essentially analogue standards, will people eventually stop saying “it’s two o’clock” when they mean “the time is fourteen hundred”?


Talking about hundreds is American military slang/jargon isn’t it? I’ve never heard it elsewhere and it doesn’t even make sense. It’s fourteen hours, not hundreds. If we’re going that way, I think it’ll be “twenty past fourteen” and such.


Well, you could say “fourteen twenty” too.

But if “fourteen twenty” was a year we would think its “1420”.

Likewise, 1400 is “fourteen hundred” and not “14:00”

Some military standards make a lot of sense, there’s no problem adopting it if it’s clear.


But 14:00 is what the time is and what the clock shows, not 1400. So I would say 14 o’clock if not 2 o’clock. Would you say “it’s nine hundred in the morning” too? Again, it’s hours not hundreds. I’m sorry but I don’t understand why you’re talking about years.

For context my country uses 24h time and I grew up with it.

Zozano, (edited )

It is objectively wrong to say 14 o’clock, because “o’clock” refers to the orientation of an analogue clock.

Saying “it’s nine in the morning” is redundant in a 24 hour system, because nine would never be anything other than that.

To say 'it’s nine hundred" reduces the ambiguity slightly (because you can’t really say o’clock).

If you simply say “it’s nine” then other people might ask “what’s nine?”

Is it “nine past nine”? Or are you telling me “no” in German?

Nine hundred is pretty clear, but not to our primitive ears


i dont know if you are joking or not, but i have all my clocks unironically on 24 hour time.


So does a lot of the world.


In real life though, when the clock reads 15:00, how do you vocally express that?


“Its fiften-hundred”



I know people who prefer 24 hour clocks but use am/pm when expressing vocally.


I mean, if someone is asking me the time, I’ll tell them 3 o’clock.

but you asked how i vocally express 15:00. Not how I would tell it to an average person :p

I’m not so up my ass that I think everyone uses 24 hour clocks, afterall lol

joel_feila, avatar

I have almost never heard people use quarter or half to tell time.


Why would the use of analog or digital clocks affect that? Quarter is 1/4th of an hour = 15 minutes. I don’t see the correlation and I can’t confirm it from personal experience either.


I think it’s because, visually, 3:15 puts the minute hand a quarter of the way around the clock face. Digital clocks don’t have a corresponding visual.


I think it’s a rounding thing. Looking at an analog clock, you’ll see at a glance that the hand is about halfway around the circle but it takes an additional processing step to determine whether it’s 6:31 or 6:29. Looking at a digital clock, you’ll see that it’s 6:29 first and then it takes another step of processing to determine that 29 minutes is roughly halfway through the hour.


The way information is presented impacts how it is stored. If you look at a clock face and want to know what time it is it’s very easy to visualize the passage of time as fractional because the time is presented to you without numbers being the primary focus and instead divisions. Mentally it is easier for you then to grapple with time as a fractional division. However, if instead of presenting the day as being divides into 2 portions of 12 hours, themselves divided into 12 subdivisions, those then further divided into 12 subdivisions of the 5tha of those divisions, you presented it as a simple read out the passage of time feels more like a linear stream mostly indistinguishable.

How we present time changes how we think about time, which then changes how we describe time.

Man language is cool…


what do you know about Marshall McLuhan? I’m hoping it’s not very much, because you seem to be in a really good place to receive what he has to teach right now. Google the phrase “the medium is the message” if you’d like to know more.


Laughs in Austrian.

The convention for (15-minute) fractional hours is to name the fraction of the time from the previous hour to the next one.

3:15 -> “viertel vier” = “quarter four”
3:30 -> “halb vier” (“hoiba viere” in dialekt) = “half four”
3:45 -> “dreiviertel vier” = “three quarters four”

JohnEdwa, (edited )

In Finland we use:

3:15 viisitoista yli kolme = fifteen over three.
3:30 puoli neljä = half four.
3:45 viisitoista vaille neljä = fifteen short of four.

We also use 24 hour clocks but if the dinner is at 17:30, it will just be said to be at half six and you figure am/pm out of context - if it’s ambiguous, we say “six in the morning / six in the evening”.


In English, when they ask the time, we reply: Puolivälissä ohitti apinan perse. Because in English Puolivälissä rhymes with perse.


I haven’t noticed any changes


I generally avoided use of the quarter/half shorthand because people often say it with no context.

“What time is it?”

“Half past.”

Half past what? Sort of an assumption that the asker has a clue what hour it is, but if they knew, why would they ask the time?

I’m not sad to see the phrases go.


That’s why people usually say Half past 5, in my experience anyway.

Metype, avatar

Never actually heard anyone exclude the hour, it’s always “half past 3”, “quarter to 8”, “5 till 6”, etc


My childhood was filled with people doing that. It drove me nuts.

daddyjones, avatar

I’m 46 and for as long as I can remember I’ve used “half past” and “quarter to” etc. Even during the years when I used a digital watch I transferred to do this now often than not. I’ll use it with my Kuga as well and they understand and often do the same.


In Lesotho (and I assume other developing countries that teach the English standard) they use those phrases because the 24-hour day and 60-minute hours are a foreign concept to many kids and their families.

pruwybn, avatar

Nowadays is easier just to say the precise time down to the minute.


In a way it is a bit sad though. It gives a more rigid feeling to things. “about quarter past” would usually be something between :10 and :20. There is room for interpretation and time feels more available with less demanded precision.


On the other hand, quarter inch and half mile and such are meant to be precise?


They are? I wouldn’t talk about fractions of cm or km if I wanted to be precise, I would say 2,5 mm or 500 m. Half a km is approximate, for when accuracy isn’t that relevant.

Silentiea, (edited )

Yeah, imperial units are terrible. 1/3 cup nuts, 1/2 cup flour…

More granular units exist, but they’re not easier to use and so no one does. The only reason anyone would refuse to switch to metric is because “it’s always been done that way around here”

Edit: typo


I still round, I’ll call 3:11 3:10 when the precision doesn’t matter.

Bishma, avatar

I was thinking the other day that I never hear the phrase “bottom of the hour” (meaning __:30) anymore.

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