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I hear the phrase "all day" used a lot in my day-to-day activities. For example:

I have had tests all day, so I am very tired."

This can also be applied to "all week," "all month," "all year," and so on. However, I have never heard the phrase "all hour" or the phrase "all minute." Instead, I normally hear something like this:

He has been outside this whole hour, and I am starting to worry for him."

So, I am wondering, why do we use all in front of some amounts of time but not others?

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    I've been wondering the same thing all morning. – tchrist Dec 3 '17 at 4:49
  • "All morning..." Wow, that's clever! – Jonathan Harbaugh Dec 3 '17 at 5:21
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    In the UK, we have the phrase all hours, e.g. "Open all hours" (Open all day) – Mick Dec 3 '17 at 5:40
  • @Mick That's interesting. I have seen that on some signs for sushi places in America, but I don't see it often. – Jonathan Harbaugh Dec 3 '17 at 5:49
  • There is also at all hours and until all hours (used in the same way). – Mick Dec 3 '17 at 5:54
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In BrE, there is the term all hours (and its variants), which means (possibly) from early morning until late at night. The term can either be approving or disapproving. Note that Collins does not mention that it can be approving.

  • [at] all hours - from (possibly) early morning until late at night

  • until all hours - until late at night

The shop is open [at] all hours.

The shop is open (possibly) from early morning until late at night (i.e. all day).

The shop is open until all hours.

The shop is open until late at night.

He stays up until all hours.

He stays up until very late at night.

She is up at all hours.

She (possibly) rises very early, and (possibly) stays up until very late at night.

at all hours [disapproval]

If you say that something happens at all hours of the day or night, you disapprove of it happening at the time that it does or as often as it does.

She didn't want her fourteen-year-old daughter coming home at all hours of the morning.

Collins English Dictionary


The British situation comedy Open All Hours, starring Ronnie Barker and David Jason, is based around a shop-keeper (and his nephew) who keeps his general store open until late into the evening, and closes up when he feels like it.

Wikipedia: Open All Hours

  • Thanks Mick, this helped! I see how "all hours" can be used in multiple scenarios in English. Thanks again for the help:) – Jonathan Harbaugh Dec 3 '17 at 8:50

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