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It's morning; a girl is at home on a school day because she'd been suspended. Suddenly, a friend of hers appears at her house to give her some homework. To explain why she's here during school time, se says:

"I had a spare so I tought I'd drop it [the homeworks] off."

What does "have a spare" mean exactly in this context?

Just to provide more context: later, the girl that brings the homeworks says:

I have to go. I'm supposed to be doing my online math.

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    What school, in which country? "Spare" might be a slang expression for "free period", meaning she has no scheduled class during that time, but this is not common in US public schools. – Andrew Apr 8 '18 at 11:51
  • It's a private american high school – Cicc Apr 8 '18 at 16:37
  • It sounds more British than American, but it's not unusual for some Americans to adopt certain British speech patterns to sound more "posh". – Andrew Apr 8 '18 at 16:53
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    Not in common use in British Schools. However. Details please Please give the exact source of this quote Here's why – James K Apr 8 '18 at 18:04
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Suddenly, a friend of hers appears at her house to give her some homework. To explain why she's here during school time, she says:

"I had a spare so I thought I'd drop it [the homework] off."

She's saying she had an extra copy of the homework that she doesn't need. Her sentence doesn't explain why she is skipping class.

The definition of "spare" as a noun that applies in this context is:

something extra that is kept to be used if it is needed.

Often we say explicitly what the "spare" is, for example "spare tire" or "spare key", but if I'm handing you something and saying "I had a spare." you can usually assume that what I'm handing you is my extra that I don't need.

Here's another example of using "spare" in this sense:

I once had a turnbuckle fall off the forestay on the way to the lake. Luckily, I had a spare.
(Source: Trailer Without Tears on BoatSafe.com)

  • "Her sentence doesn't explain why she is skipping class" gives it away. She is not delivering an extra copy of the homework during class time - she has a free period i.e. there is no class on her timetable at that moment. She is using her spare to drop it off. – MIL-SPEC Jul 20 '18 at 8:31
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The speaker is saying they have some free time.

The phrase is a colloquialism and isn't correct English because the phrase is implying an assumed word that is missing:

"I have a spare (moment, hour, period, etc.)."

To my ear this sounds like a British English thing, I don't hear this kind of abbreviation in American English.

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    I think this answer is on the right track, but I have downvoted it becase it's misleading to say this is not "correct English". A colloquialism is "correct English" when it is correctly used and easily understood to those familiar with it. Also it would help if you offered any reference to support your assertion that this is an actual colloquialism and not simply a misunderstanding. – Andrew Apr 8 '18 at 16:50
  • I don't hear this in British English either. – Omegastick Jul 20 '18 at 7:45

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