Reading the time

My English teacher in primary school taught us how to read the time. She showed us a large chart with many pictures of analog clocks, and each clock was displaying a different time. First it was to identify the hour hand and minute hand. That was the easy part. Then she taught us what it meant if the hour hand or minute hand was in a certain position. I found it confusing that at the same spot, it meant 2 for the hour hand, and 10 for the minute hand. Finally she taught us how to read the time displayed by each clock in the chart. So we learnt “one o’clock”, “ten past one”, “half past six”, “ten to two” and so on. At that time, the trickiest part was when the clock was close to the next hour, eg “ten to two”. Some students read it as “fifty past two” because the minute hand was at the 50 position, and the hour hand was at the 2 position.

These days, I rarely hear people reading the time in this style. People are more likely to say “one-ten”, “six-thirty”, and “one-fifty”.

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