Phrase "quarter of noon"


Someone told me to meet him at quarter of noon so I was there precisely at 12:15pm. He got mad because I was late 30 minutes

Does quarter of 12 mean 11:45am? I’ve never heard anyone has ever used this before? is it common?

on a separate note, which is correct:

I’ve never heard anyone have ever used this before
I’ve never heard anyone used this before

You can either say ‘quarter past twelve’ which is 12.15 or ‘quarter to twelve’ which is 11.45. Your sentence should read "I’ve never heard anyone use this before’.[YSaerTTEW443543]

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So it was his fault for not saying it correctly. He is a native speaker but he is from the East Coast. Could this be why? :slight_smile:

btw, he said quarter of 12, not quarter of noon. Could this have changed things?

"I’ve never heard anyone use this before’

can you say

I’ve never heard anyone has ever used this before?
Does “use” have to be an infinitive here?


To me 11.45 is a quarter to twelve. I don’t know this other expression ‘quarter of noon’.

Your sentence should read: I’ve never heard anyone use this before.


Quarter of twelve means 11:45. Using ‘of’ instead of ‘to’ is an extremely common usage in American English. In fact, I’d say that using ‘of’ is far more common than using ‘to’ (in the US) and is quite standard. Look at definition 17 here:

The Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries also include information about this usage:

In American English, it would also be extremely common to say ‘quarter after 12’ instead of ‘quarter past 12’ (i.e. 12:15).

No, it was not his fault.

You said he was from the “East Coast”, and I assume you meant he was from the US. He used an expression which is correct and standard in American English. The “fault” (if any) is that nobody has bothered to tell you very much about differences between American and British English.

Now you know about ‘of’ and ‘after’ when talking about time in AmE. :smiley:

Hi Amy,

So in American English it’s more common to say ‘at quarter of 12’ than ‘at quarter to 12’ or 'at 11.45?[YSaerTTEW443543]

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Hi Torsten

Given a choice between ‘of’ and ‘to’, typical American usage would be with ‘of’ (and without the ‘a’). That doesn’t mean that you will never hear an American use ‘to’. You’ll also hear the word ‘before’ used on occasion, but that’s less common. Of course, it would also be quite common to say “eleven forty-five”. At 11:59, it wouldn’t be at all unusual for someone to say “It’s eleven fifty-nine”, and in fact, that may well be the most common way to say that. But, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if someone said “It’s one minute of.”

Common ways to say 12:20, for example, would be “twenty after twelve” or “twelve twenty”. That doesn’t mean, however, that ‘past’ is never used.

The British “half six” (6:30) is not used at all in the US. Perhaps that’s because of the large number of German immigrants that we’ve had and the confusion that a direct translation of the German “halb sechs” (5:30) would cause (or has caused). :lol:

Hi Amy,

How do you define “typical American usage”? I’m asking because Jamie has never heard any American say “at quarter of twelve”. Maybe this phrase is only used by people in in a certain area of the US?[YSaerTTEW443543]

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Hi Torsten

After finding Jamie’s comments on the use (or lack thereof) of the word ‘of’ in telling time, I responded to him in that thread.

It is not only Amy who is aware of the fact that ‘of’ rather than only ‘to’ is widely used in AmE. There is no way that I can account for Jamie claiming never to have heard something that is so commonly used – especially a usage that is so widespread that it appears in dictionaries without any usage restriction noted (other than ‘North American’), and especially from someone who claims to be knowledgeable about variations in American English.

In addition, I really have no idea why Jamie said he’d have to ask his mother about this usage. That didn’t make much sense to me either.

When I say ‘typical’ here, I mean that using ‘of’ in telling time is a characteristic of AmE, and that it is widely and regularly used. I have never met any American who misunderstood this usage (until Jamie claimed not to understand it, that is.:lol:)

I have always heard from my British colleagues that this usage of the word ‘of’ is not characteristic of British English. I have also been told that it is not used in any part of Britain. The dictionaries support this. And so did Alan’s reaction to the usage.

Obviously, frequency of usage for any word or expression can vary from place to place – and even from person to person. My experience is that using ‘of’ instead of ‘to’ is in widespread and regular use in the US, and that ‘to’ is also used. It is my experience that the use of the word ‘of’ is somewhat more commonly used than ‘to’ in AmE. I don’t have any statistics that might illustrate regional variations. However, I do think the dictionaries support the fact that this usage of the word ‘of’ can be viewed as being a common characteristic of AmE in general.

Hi Amy,

Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation. Are there any other phrases in American English in which the preposition ‘of’ is used to mean ‘before’?


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Nothing that comes to mind at the moment. However, there are also the expressions ‘the top of the hour’ and ‘the bottom of the hour’. :smiley: