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I've heard the British term "half seven" (or "half nine," "half five", etc) used to tell time. I can't remember though if it means 6:30 or 7:30 (i.e. half an hour before seven, or half past seven)?

I'm American and have never heard another American use the phrase, but apparently it's very common in the UK.

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When I first moved from the UK to the US, I was still getting acclimatized to the American dialect. I remember someone asked me the time and I said "half six", and he responded "you mean three?" However, what goes around comes around. Later I asked him the time, and he said "quarter of four", to which I responded "You mean one?" –  Fraser Orr Jul 4 '11 at 4:36
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Related: What does 'ten of six' mean in regard to time, in which the top answer actually mentions and explains "half six". –  RegDwigнt Jul 4 '11 at 14:26
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I think the difference between the English and German, (et. Al.) makes sense when you think about the difference in the order noun and verb relationships differ. Dutch Pa. "Throw the horse over the fence some hay." might help put it into a larger perspective... –  user53490 Oct 6 '13 at 4:31
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+1 for acclimatized instead of acclimated. -1 for acclimatized with a "z". :) –  Brad Nov 23 '13 at 12:29
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3 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Half seven is the same as half past seven, with past simply missing. It's 7:30.

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Unlike German, where "halb sieben" would mean 6:30. –  Peter Shor Jul 4 '11 at 2:44
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In Dutch, "half zeven" is 6:30 as well. –  Cerberus Jul 4 '11 at 3:08
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That's weird that it's the opposite in other languages, but it makes sense because it sounds like it could be either one. It's not very intuitive. –  redbmk Jul 4 '11 at 3:11
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Swedish is the same too. "Halv sju" (half seven) is taken as 6:30. Does that mean 06:30 or 18:30? Absent context, no one knows. –  Michael Kjörling Aug 18 '11 at 12:45
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Americans say "half past seven". I've never heard anyone say "half before seven" nor have I heard an American say "half seven". It does lead to odd situations. My German wife has a very good English friend. She learned the difference between "half seven" and "halbsieben" when they both showed up on time yet an hour apart.

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Half past 7 means 7:30

it's also a slang term for "crazy" or "insane".

There is an American battle rapper who goes by Half Past 7 because of the slang meaning.

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The question asks about half seven, not half past seven, so this isn't a useful answer. This is not a discussion forum, but a Q&A site. –  choster Nov 23 '13 at 3:07
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