Which of the following sentences is more common? Are they both acceptable?

It's twenty-five past seven am.

It's seven twenty-five am.

I wonder if the usage of am/pm is okay when using the past/to format to tell the time.

A native person would be more likely to say:

7:25 am -> Seven twenty-five am. / Twenty-five past seven am.

7:47 am -> Seven forty-seven am. / Thirteen to eight am.

  • Both are common and acceptable. I often hear the first on the radio, but that's not an exclusive use. You could even say "It's thirty-five (to/until) eight am." – VampDuc Aug 20 '15 at 17:01
  • 3
    Personally, I don't much like am tacked on the end in the first example. I'd only use it myself if the am/pm distinction were effectively either an "afterthought" (to resolve an ambiguity just noticed while I was speaking), or as an "intensifier" (emphasizing that although it might be an "ordinary" time in the evening, it's very early in the morning). So in either case I might write it preceded by a dash (and possibly followed by an exclamation mark! :) – FumbleFingers Aug 20 '15 at 18:18
  • @FumbleFingers Yes, I agree. In Britain it is very rare to use am/pm with the to/past form. – WS2 Aug 20 '15 at 19:17
  • @WS2 Would you say, then, that the most common way for somebody who wants to specify what part of the they they are referring to when telling the time is the hour + minutes format, such as Seven twenty-five am. instead of Twenty-five past seven am. Does the latter sound odd to your native ears? Thanks – TMuskett Aug 20 '15 at 21:33
  • @TMuskett Yes, very unusual. – WS2 Aug 20 '15 at 23:32

As a native speaker, I would never say twenty-five pas seven am nor would I say thirteen to eight am. I personally only use this structure informally and only to reference the present time. I would rely on the fact that the person I'm speaking with knows generally whether is is before or after noon. If I need to be specific about whether the time is day or night then I format it as seven twenty-five am.

  • 2
    Personally, I'd never say thirteen to eight anyway - I often omit the word minutes after any number divisible by 5, but not otherwise (except after quarter, obviously). But I don't recognize your point about "only to reference the present time". Are you saying you're fine with It's [now] ten to six, but that you have a problem with You need to get up tomorrow at ten to six? That strikes me as a very odd restriction. – FumbleFingers Aug 20 '15 at 20:24

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