Saturday, November 10, 2007

A quarter to five

"Bee, I'm coming to pick you up at quarter to five." said a friend.
"Ok, see you then." I replied.
"What time your friend is coming to pick us up?" Asked hubby.
"Ah, we have plenty of time then." He then continue to play his games and me watching TV.

At 4.45pm, someone knocked on the door, and of course it was my friend! Quarter to five is 4.45pm, and I thought she meant 5.15pm.

I don't know why people need to get complicated with the way they express about time. Why don't just say it directly at the exact time instead of having to think about 5pm minus a quarter = 4.45pm. I found it very confusing and each time I have to think about what it really means. This way of expressing time was uncommon around my network in Malaysia. When I was in Austin I didn't have much problem accept for one or two friends who would said the time in a different way.

In France, everyone is using the quarter system:
45 minutes = 3 quarter hour (3 quart d'heure)
2.15 = 2 hours quarter (deux heures et quart)
2.45 = 3 hours minus a quarter (trois heures moins quart)

Worst, they are using the 24 hours clock system. Sometimes when someone said 18 hours (dix huit heures) immediately I would thought about 8pm, but instead it's 6pm.

Living in a foreign country really need a lot of adjustment.


  1. Anonymous2:34 PM

    For 2.45, normally they said 3 heures moins le quart.It means it is a quater to 3.
    In Malaysia when we mentioned the time, we did specified pm or am, but to the french they rarely use du matin or de l'apres midi,kind of long, so 24hrs system make it understandable.

  2. Anonymous5:44 PM

    The quarter to/quarter after is quite common and natural/easy to comprehend for a native English speaker, I think. Either is quite easy for me to comprehend, but the French way of saying it, which you mentioned in your post, is a lot more confusing for me because it's not my native language.

    The second one that you mentioned, using the 24 hour clock is not so hard for me because we used the same time method in the military. So it's easy for me to understand it, as long as it's said in English (or written numerically). Once it's said in French or another language, I actually have to sit there and count/subtract because the numbers in a nother language other than English simply don't come naturally for me. I think in English when it comes to numbers...

  3. Anonymous2:51 PM

    I still have prob with the 24hour system though .. ha ha ha. Usually will paused for a while and think

  4. natasha,
    You are right, sorry I did a mistake.

    So I think if it is your native language it could be understood better. I'm like you, when a number is said I tend to think about it first in English.

    Yeah I'm like you, still have to pause to think about that it actually means.

  5. Anonymous8:42 PM

    French 24 hr system is even harder! I have to use my fingers and toes to make sure I got the hours correct! Haha.

    Quarter to five, is indeed 4.45! That's the way it has always be said in Malaysia, what. Quarter past five than it is 5.15! Aiyo, you got yourself all mixed up, Bee Ean! :-)