1

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

(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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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. Jan 8 '19 at 18:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.