Conversation Lesson 5
Lesson 5 - Time

Dialogs for everyday use. Short situational dialogs for students of English as a Foreign (EFL) or Second (ESL) Language.
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Margaret: What time is it?

Toni: It’s a quarter to five.

Margaret: Aren’t we supposed to be at Jim’s house by five o’clock?

Toni: Five or five­thirty. He said it didn’t make any difference.

Margaret: Then maybe we could pick your suit up at the cleaners.

Toni: Sure, we have plenty of time.
Conversation Notes
  • It’s a quarter to five
  • This is probably the most common way of stating this time.
  • Other possibilities are It’s a quarter of five or It’s fifteen till five. (It’s four forty­five is rarely heard in casual conversation.)
  • Fifteen minutes after the hour would usually be expressed thus: It’s a quarter after five or It’s a quarter past five. We also hear It’s five­fifteen (though this is less frequent in casual conversation).
  • An alternative form for five­thirty is half­past five. For times other than the quarter­hours or half­hour, numbers are used: twenty past five or twenty after five, ten to five or ten till five, etc.
  • Frequently the speaker will omit the It’s or It’s a and answer simply A quarter to five or Quarter to five.
  • Some speakers omit or obscure the a: It’s (a) quarter to five.
  • Aren’t we supposed to be
  • Note that the negative question here indicates, as it usually does, the speaker’s belief that his assumption is true. He expects an affirmative reply, a confirmation of his assumption.
  • supposed to
  • Meaning is expected to; obliged to (not as strong as required to). This meaning of suppose occurs only in the passive. Other examples: I’m supposed to prepare a program for our English Club meeting next week. They were supposed to be here an hour ago—I don’t know where they can be. We’re supposed to practice the dialogues at home, too. Children are supposed to obey their parents.
  • Note the difference in intonation between the yes­no question in line c (rising intonation) and the wh­question in line a (falling intonation).
  • by five o’clock
  • Means no later than five o’clock.
  • He said it didn’t
  • In conversation the conjunction that (He said that it didn’t…) is generally omitted in reported speech, as here. Notice the sequence of tenses: said… didn’t. Where the verb in direct speech would be in the present tense (“Shall we come at five or five­thirty?” “Either one. It doesn’t make any difference.”), it is past tense (didn’t) after a past tense introductory verb (said): He said it didn’t make any difference.
Source: U.S. State Department
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