Is it correct to say: It is just five o'clock when the time is 5:03 OR It is correct to say: It is just after five o'clock ??! is AFTER necessary??

2 Answers 2


I don't think this is really a language question; it's a precision question.

In many situations, a certain level of imprecision is quite acceptable:

"The party's at seven, should we start getting ready?"

"Oh, no, it's only five o'clock."

This is fine anywhere between around 4:55 and 5:05 or so - it's entirely subjective.

"Oh no, am I late? What time is it?"

"It's just after five o'clock."

This is also fine giving an approximation of the time.

"All right, I'm calling it. Time of death?"

"Five-oh-three, doctor."

This is a situation where you really want the precision.

In general, in most situations you don't need to state the exact time. There are a lot of different ways to say the same time in English, and not much consensus about which is 'correct'. 5:15 can be said as:


A quarter past five;

A quarter after five;

A quarter of five;


...among others. All are correct, and generally a matter of personal preference or, in some cases, organisation policy.


Both are grammatically correct, but the difference is in the semantics.

The former means that the time has just reached five o'clock, or that the time is only five o'clock.

The latter means that it is a small amount of time after five o'clock.

Both may be valid in your situation depending on context, though I get the feeling you mean the latter.

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