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If it is seven thirty, we can also say "half past seven". I am wondering whether "thirty past seven" is acceptable.

5
  • 5
    twenty-five past is common, we don't use thirty past.
    – djna
    Sep 16 '16 at 13:38
  • 2
    seven thirty :)
    – The Cat
    Sep 16 '16 at 15:57
  • I'm more of a 'thirty till 8' kinda guy... ;)
    – Zeb
    Sep 16 '16 at 21:01
  • It is acceptable; it is correct and will be understood. It is not idiomatic.
    – keshlam
    Sep 17 '16 at 4:55
  • 2
    It depends what you mean by "acceptable". If you mean "will native speakers understand me", the answer is yes. If you mean "would a native speaker say this", then I believe the answer is no. Of course, there are several dialects that I haven't encountered yet, so one day, I might meet a native speaker who says "thirty past seven"; but it hasn't happened yet. So it's probably best if you avoid saying this. Sep 17 '16 at 10:36
13

"Half past seven" is the common expression. The following picture may help you and please see here:

enter image description here

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  • 2
    Instead of "five to eight", many people say "five till..." or "five of...".
    – Joe
    Sep 16 '16 at 18:34
  • 2
    @Glen_b, in my experience, these terms vary quite a bit from region to region.
    – Joe
    Sep 17 '16 at 3:16
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    @Glen_b, to me "five to..." sounds odd, unlike "five till..." which sounds normal. Since I'm not sure exactly which terms would be best for the asker, I'd just want to point out that the various options exist.
    – Joe
    Sep 17 '16 at 3:20
  • 1
    A lot of Stephen King characters seem to say "quarter of". I've always assumed it was a north-east USA thing, since many of his books are set in New England. I've never met a real person who says it. Sep 17 '16 at 10:38
  • 1
    Note that this "answer" doesn't actually answer the question: is "thirty past acceptable". It just describes some common ways of expressing some times. Sep 17 '16 at 10:39
4

A native speaker would probably recognize what you mean, by analogy to what native speakers actually say (1 minute past seven, twenty-nine past seven, fifty-five past seven, and possibly fifty-nine past seven), but native speakers do not actually use thirty past, except if they wanted to be "cute" or call attention to themselves by using a non-typical expression.

And, in my experience native speakers will not say fifty-nine past seven, since it's kind of "idiotic" not to say, instead, one minute till eight. However, forty past and even fifty past are not uncommon.

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  • 6
    In my experience native speakers will not say any number higher than twenty-nine minutes past seven. Also, they will always include the explicit noun minutes for all numbers that aren't multiples of five (but not fifteen, which is always rendered as [a] quarter). Nobody says It's twenty-six past seven, for example. It's the same principle past the half-hour, in that nobody says It's eleven to nine (that's always It's eleven minutes to nine). Sep 16 '16 at 15:16
  • @FumbleFingers As often, your experience is just that. Sep 16 '16 at 18:29
  • 2
    That's why I specifically said In my experience. But I've been around a long time, and heard a lot of people use these constructions over the decades. Long enough to notice that younger people are much less likely to use the X [minutes] to [next hour] construction simply because they see more digital time displays rather than clock face hands. Sep 16 '16 at 18:46
  • 3
    From BBC Learning English: In ordinary conversation, what most people say is “five past”, “twenty past”, “twenty-five to”, “a quarter to” and so on….Interestingly, we usually don’t say “four past”, or “six past” – we put in minutes there. We say “four minutes past”, “six minutes past” and we drop minutes with the fives: “five past”, “twenty past”. Sep 16 '16 at 18:51
  • 4
    My experience accords with @FumbleFingers; I'll add that I think the digital aversion to the X to Y construction is spreading; I'd be somewhat surprised to hear twenty-seven minutes after 2 from my college students—I'd expect it to be two twenty-seven*—and I'm fairly certain that my children would even only say *two-fifteen rather than quarter past/after two.
    – 1006a
    Sep 16 '16 at 19:54
4

Other answers have shown that there is a lot of variation in what is "normal".

The answer to the original question, though, depends on what you mean by "acceptable".

If you mean "will I be understood?" - the answer is yes.

If you mean "will I sound natural" - the answer is no.

"thirty past" is not in the set of "normal" variations of how we say time.

If you want to say the word "thirty" then you add it after the time like

"ten thirty".

This is very normal and actually applies to any number of minutes. I'd go as far as to say that this is the "safest" way to construct a time: say the number of minutes after the hour.

"ten ten"

"ten twenty five"

"ten fifty nine"

are all natural sounding.

Only the less-than-ten numbers need a slight adjustment.

"ten eight" would not even be recognised as a time, and "ten two" sounds like "ten to", which is means "ten minutes to the hour" the same as "fifty minutes past the hour"!

Instead, for minutes less than ten

"ten oh two"

is the way we say it, presumably because that makes it "look like" a time:

10:02 ten oh two

(where "oh" is the alternative pronunciation of the number zero)

2

"Thirty past seven" would be readily understood, but "sound funny" -- it would take an extra few seconds to process.

Times are generally expressed as laconically as possible: "What time is it?" "Quarter after"/"Quarter past", "Ten to"/"Ten of" if the relevant hour is probably known, e.g., the questioner and questionee have been waiting together, and the question has been asked recently enough. If the hour is needed, the questioner can then ask "quarter after what?"/"ten of what?"

Some people answer generally: "Quarter after" for any time in the range 13-17 after, if there's no reason to suppose exactness is desired.

And of course some try to answer precisely: "my watch shows 13 after 7" / "according to my watch, 9 minutes before 7".

One can say "15 after/past 7", but for some reason not 30 or 45. The same is true of times before an hour: "15 before 7" sounds slightly stilted but okay, but "30 before 7" sounds odd and "45 before 7" very odd.

1
  • It'd be polite of the person(s) who down-ticked me 2 points to explain their reasoning.
    – MMacD
    Sep 19 '16 at 14:46
0

Half past seven would be the most natural way to express this, however seven thirty is far more common. The past/to expressions are not extremely common. I more frequently here quarter till (short for quarter until) or quarter after, with the hour unspoken and implied when relative to an event happening now. I very, very rarely hear anyone say ten to eight, I almost always hear ten till eight or ten till here in the northwest US. Half past is used more than half after but seven thirty is by far the most common way to express it.

The past and to expressions are more commonly used in literature, having a distinct pacing and warmth that the common form of time does not.

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  • In certain parts of the USA, you'll hear 'ten of 8', which just goes to show you, and apparently others, that there's many flavors when it comes to telling time. Sep 17 '16 at 4:07
  • 2
    When you say "here in the northwest", which country are you referring to? Lots of countries have northwests. Sep 17 '16 at 10:40
  • Northwest US. Fixed! Sep 18 '16 at 22:32

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