I usually say “It’s a quarter past” (for instance) “five”.

But I think I’ve heard (or read) “It’s quarter past ...”, too, with no indefinite article: is that correct?

Which is more common (if both constructions are in use)?

Is the omission of the article more colloquial (informal, popular, whatever)?

Is there a difference between British and American English?

Thank you very much.


1 Answer 1


(It is) A quarter past five.
(It is) quarter past five.

Both of these are correct. In British English, it's more common to use the second sentence. Using the indefinite article may sound slightly dated.

The phrase is used in both formal and informal speech (saying "five fifteen" is less common, and sounds slightly odd). In writing it would probably be more common to write the time numerically: 5:15 PM or 17:15 (either is acceptable and both are used in British English).

I can't really comment on differences in American English.

  • Not the question asked, but in US English, "five fifteen" doesn't sound odd. We say it a lot. Maybe even more than "quarter past five."
    – Lorel C.
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 18:36

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