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It's almost 12 o'clock.

It's near 12 o'clock.

There must be a little difference, but how different they are?

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  • 1
    nearly none at all....
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 14 '18 at 11:12
  • What do you mean?(nearly none at all) Mar 14 '18 at 11:20
  • 1
    See the answer below, "nearly" is an adverb, and means "almost" and "very close to"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 14 '18 at 11:22
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As Cookie Monster says, it's near 12 o'clock, is not idiomatic, but I'm not sure that if I heard it, I would interpret as being exactly the same as it's almost 12 o'clock. To me, it almost sounds closer to it's around 12 o'clock, which actually has a different meaning than the "almost" version.

What's the difference? There are three possible situations you could be describing when you say that the time is close to 12 o'clock:

  1. The time is a few minutes before twelve, but definitely not twelve yet.

This is what the almost version means. Different ways of saying this include:

It's almost 12 o'clock.

It's nearly 12 o'clock.

It's just before 12 o'clock.

It's a few minutes shy of 12 o'clock.

  1. The time is close to twelve, but it could be either before or after twelve.

This is the about version:

It's about 12 o'clock.

It's around 12 o'clock.

It's 12 o'clock, give or take [a few minutes].

To me, this is what I'd assume someone who said "near 12" would mean, I guess because I'm interpreting near as being an exact synonym of around, rather than being the same meaning as nearly.

  1. The time is a few minutes after twelve.

There are fewer ways of saying this:

It's just after 12 o'clock.

In BrE, you could say:

It's just gone twelve.

But many AmE speakers would not understand that version.

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It's near 12 o'clock is not very idiomatic English (something that's not natural to say in this particular context). I would even go so far as to suggest that it's probably not grammatically valid English either, but who knows. You should say instead:

It's nearly 12 o'clock.

And it basically means exactly the same thing as It's almost 12 o'clock. I'm really failing to see any difference in meaning. So, you can very much use these two phrases interchangeably. And they're both used with more or less equal frequency.

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    Because I am not an American speaker, I don't feel comfortable saying "near 12 o'clock" is not idiomatic, Americans tell the time differently from British English speakers, but "nearly" is acceptable/correct in both dialects.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 14 '18 at 11:25

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