I know that we can write the sentence in the title as

It takes less than 1 minute to print the paper.

But is

It is less than 1 minute to print the paper.

also correct?

What I want to emphasize is that it is very fast to print the paper.

  • Are you talking about the paper as in a report, or as a single sheet of paper?
    – holroy
    Jul 18, 2015 at 13:38
  • I'm sorry for my late reply. I was talking about the paper as a technical report for a conference.
    – tatung
    Jul 23, 2015 at 9:24

4 Answers 4


What is the context? If you are saying that a specific printer is very fast, you need to be more quantitative. "It takes less than one minute to print N pages." If you are telling a person that his job will be done quickly, say: "It will take less than a minute to print the paper."

  • It is true that I want to said that the job of printing the paper will be done quickly. So I think I will choose the first sentence. Thanks!
    – tatung
    Jul 23, 2015 at 9:32

I think you should rephrase as "The printing takes less than one minute" if you really want to emphasize the speed.

If you say, "it is less", you should be comparing to something else, which you are not. For example, you might say "it is less than 5 dollars".

Overall, when you refer to "it" in your sentences, you are talking about the printer. The printer is not "less" itself, but it "takes less" time to print.

  • So what if the printing consists of 1000's of pages? does it still take less than a minute? and, "it is less then 1 minute", he is comparing it to 1 minute, 5 dollars, one minute, what is the difference, both of them are countable and something to compare against.
    Jul 17, 2015 at 15:48
  • @NANDAGOPAL I really don't think tatung was trying to be so technical here. I think he/she meant to emphasize that it was speedy, not what the specific speed itself was. Also, you cannot just compare like that. If you say "it is less than 1 minute to print", then you are comparing "to print" to time, which makes absolutely no sense.
    – Srishti L
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:51
  • In the OPs context he could say: "it is less than one minute till the paper is finished printing"
    – holroy
    Jul 23, 2015 at 20:34

Part 1:

Okay, you want to emphasize on the printing speeds right?

First of all, the way printing speeds are measured (depending on the printer type) is

  • characters per minute (cpm) for character printers
  • lines per minute (lpm) for line printers
  • pages per minute (ppm) for modern laser printers

We do not measure the printer speeds by papers per minute. So both your sentence constructions are technically wrong because of the wrong unit of measurement and grammatically wrong as well.

It is technically wrong because, when you say print the paper , it actually means "to print the physical paper " a few years ago this might have sounded dumb, but now a days you have 3D printers right, they print 3D objects, so I can say something like " My printer(3D printer) printed this toy in 5 minutes " which does not mean that the printer printed something on the toy, it means, the printer printed the toy. So "It takes less than 1 minute to print the paper." sounds like the printer physically printed the paper, which is not right. So the correct form of the sentence would be "It takes less than 1 minute to print a page". You might ask, why "a page"? what about "the page"?.

Part 2

Ignoring the technicalities, it must be printing a paper and not printing the paper. When do we use the? we use the to point to unique and/or singular things. example

  • The Sun (even thought it is just one of billions of stars, the earth has only one Sun)
  • The Moon
  • The Taj Mahal

but in your sentence it is just a sheet of paper from a stack of papers right?

So to put it in your own words you can say It takes less than 1 minute to print a page or It takes less than a minute to print a page. This way it emphasizes the speed. I am sure there are better ways to re-phrase it, but I guess you are not a native speaker of English and you have tried to just directly translate your thoughts to English. So this will do fine.

If you want to be very specific about the speed you can mention something like It can print 100 pages per minute or something similar.

  • My understanding is that the OP is taking about "the paper" as a specific report, which makes your response incorrect when you talk about a paper as the single sheets of paper (or pages)
    – holroy
    Jul 18, 2015 at 13:34
  • I'm sorry for not make it clear from the beginning. By "the paper", I meant a technical report for a conference.
    – tatung
    Jul 23, 2015 at 9:26

I have to imagine the context here. Say I have a new printer, and I want to tell someone how fast it is. As a test, I'm using a multi-page paper (e.g., maybe a paper written for school, or maybe a technical research paper). In this situation, the first sentence is something I would say, as a native US English speaker:

It takes less than one minute to print the paper.

In this context, the second sentence is not what I would naturally say, because I'm commenting on the amount of time an event takes, not what something is.

Note that a key assumption I'm making is that "paper" doesn't mean "a sheet of paper."

  • Mate, the first sentence is not correct.
    Jul 17, 2015 at 16:13
  • 1
    @NANDAGOPAL, how so? It sounds fine to me.
    – Chad
    Jul 17, 2015 at 16:14
  • Please include an explanation of why the first is the only correct one. Jul 17, 2015 at 16:31

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