Episode 3: Routines


Episode 2                  Episode 4



Time-Telling Phrases

Which is the more common way to say this sentence, 1 or 2?

My alarm goes off at quarter after 6 everyday.

The first one.


That’s because the words quarter after 6 is reduced. A reduction happens when a sound is not said in a word or between words or when words are said less clearly.

Like linking, a reduction is another way that a fluent English speaker saves time and breath when they speak.

When we tell the time, we often use phrases like:

  • half past (30 minutes after the hour)
  • quarter after (15 minutes after the hour)
  • quarter to (15 minutes until the next hour)
  • 10 minutes to/before (10 minutes until the hour)
  • 8 minutes after (8 minutes after the hour)
  • It’s ten to four (It’s ten minutes until four o’clock)

When we pronounce these phrases, we might not say all of the sounds. For example, in My alarm goes off at quarter after 6 everyday, the time-telling phrase might sound like quarer afer six.

Notice that the stop consonants which need a stop in air are the ones that might be unsaid to speak more quickly.

  • half past can sound like alf pas
  • quarter after can sound like quarer afer
  • quarter to can sound like quarer uh
  • 10 minutes to can sound like 10 mines uh
  • 8 minutes after can sound like 8 mines afer
  • it’s ten to four can sound like z ten uh four


Practice: Listen and then repeat these lines from the conversation.