Heat the mixture for ten and several minutes.

What is a more natural way to express this “ten and several” wording, which is literally translated from Japanese?

A. for between ten and 20 minutes

B. for 15 minutes or so

C. something else?

  • 2
    Depends on just what the Japanese expression means. If it means 10-20 minutes, then go with that. If it means about 15 minutes then go with that. Without knowing the Japanese denotation and connotations, we cannot guess what English expression might be closest. – Drew Sep 26 '14 at 2:30
  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about translating an expression from Japanese. – Drew Sep 26 '14 at 2:31
  • My inclination would be to say "for 13-17 minutes". – Hellion Oct 26 '14 at 3:29
  • How about "ten something minutes"? as in "unspecified amount above ten minutes but less than 20" – Zeks Oct 26 '14 at 19:07
  • Since time is default implied to be in minutes (i.e I'll be there in 5) with context one could say "Ten or so", "Ten or twenty" (between is implied because it's unlikely to have for example "I'll be there at 12:10pm exactly or 12:20pm exactly") – nathanfranke Feb 16 '20 at 21:26

In English, there is no short expression for "between 10 and 20" in common use. The closest direct translations are, in fact, "between 10 and 20 minutes" and "10 to 20 minutes".

However, there are some other expressions that may be appropriate:

  • A dozen minutes: if you intend to express "approximately twelve". Technically, a dozen is exactly 12, but it might be interpreted with a ± 2 tolerance.
  • A quarter hour: Technically, this means exactly 15 minutes, but by shifting to less precise units, some tolerance is implied. An interpretation of ± 5 minutes would not be unreasonable.

Typically, a recipe will state something like "heat for a quarter hour, until the mixture has the consistency of honey" — or some other guideline as to when to stop. It would then be clear that the time expression is a rough estimate.

For "between 20 and 30", you could say "twenty-something". For "between 30 and 40", you could say "thirty-something". However, "ten-something" doesn't sound natural. "Ten-and-something" is not much better. You might as well say "between 10 and 20.'


Actually, there are at least three idiomatic expressions that do the trick:

  • "ten minutes and change":

    (idiomatic) and some quantity, but less than the increment to the next round number

  • "ten minutes and then some":

    (idiomatic, colloquial) used to confirm preceding utterance, while implying that what was said or asked is an understatement

  • "ten-odd minutes"

    somewhat more than the indicated approximate quantity, extent, or degree —usually used in combination <300-odd pages>

However, all these are quite informal, so you are unlikely to find them in an instruction manual or recipe, nor should you use them in such contexts yourself.

On the plus side, when you can use them, you can use them with absolutely any number, not just 10.

  • On the negative side, it appears from the question (although I don't know Japanese, so I may be completely wrong) that "ten and several" minutes means between ten and twenty, and probably somewhere around fifteen, while I'd take your three expressions as more like meaning somewhere between ten and fifteen. – Peter Shor Oct 27 '14 at 15:09
  • @PeterShor See this answer on Japanese.SE by Tsuyoshi Ito, where 十数 is presumably the Japanese in question. He wrote: "数 in 十数 means that it is an unspecified number. That is, 十数 is 1X, where X is an unspecified digit. It is usually assumed that X is at least two and not too large; 19 would be probably too large to refer to as 十数." – user28567 Oct 27 '14 at 15:58

It just means "at least ten minutes."

More pedantic but accurate could be "more than ten minutes."

Where's the problem?

  • 1
    The OP seems to be saying that "between 10 and 20 minutes" and "around 15 minutes" are both reasonable translations for this expression. Neither of these should be replaced by "at least ten minutes". – Peter Shor Oct 26 '14 at 11:30
  • @Peter The OP is asking, not saying. Read again. – Kris Oct 26 '14 at 11:41
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    The OP is asking how to translate the expression in Japanese that literally means "ten and several minutes", and giving us a choice as to whether "between ten and twenty" or "for fifteen minutes or so", or something else, is more idiomatic English. He's not asking what the phrase means in Japanese, and he's not asking what a literal translation of the words means in English. – Peter Shor Oct 26 '14 at 17:33
  • @Peter Shor "C." – Kris Oct 26 '14 at 17:39
  • 7
    This answer is incorrect. The Japanese phrase does not simply mean “more than 10 minutes”. Four hours would fit that description, which is not the case with the expression in question here. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 26 '14 at 19:59

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