The Time

    Here are a few examples which will show you how to express the time in English.


    The alternative forms in brackets are generally used when giving a precise time, as for trains and so on. This is becoming more common with digital watches. In writing, these forms are almost always expressed in figures (1.10 , 1.15 , etc.). 1  

    Where necessary, the letters “a.m.” and “p.m.” are, as in some other languages, given after the figures to indicate whether the time in question is before or after noon.

    When asking the time, one says "What is the time ?" or "What time is it ?", and when giving the time, one says "It is six , half-past two, eight minutes to four , etc."



    1 In North America, a colon is used: 1:10, 1:15 p.m., etc.



Exercises on telling time


1. In the following examples, express the time indicated by the hands of the clock in two alternative ways.






2. Answer in Basic:

(a)    When do you get up in the morning?

(b) What time is it now?

(c) At what time do you have your meal in the middle of the day?

(d) At what time do you go to bed?

(e) What are your hours of work?






There are some persons who put on their radio when they get up in the morning and keep it turned on till they go to bed at night, whatever the program is. They give it so little attention that, if they were questioned later, they probably wouldn't be able to say what they had been hearing, though they might have some memory of the verses and music of the latest song. They put on the radio because they are happiest when a noise of some sort is going on. The reason why noise gives them pleasure isn't clear. Probably because it makes thought impossible.

    There is another group of people who have nothing good to say about radio and will not have it in the house. Radio talks send them to sleep and radio news, in their opinion, is only propaganda. As for plays, they have not interest in them if they aren't able to see the actors on the stage. The bad music frequently played on the radio is not to their taste, and when good music is played, it give them no pleasure because the quality of the sound is not quite what their delicate ears are used to Such persons are generally against all new inventions and all forms of change.

    Between these two groups are the persons like myself who get a great amount of pleasure from the radio, but who only put it on when there is a programme in which they are interested. But there is, in addition, a fourth group of person whose viewpoint is quite different to that of the other three. They are not interested in the sounds produced but only in the instrument producing then. They have the details of all the different stations by heart, and they keep turning from one to another, testing the range and the power of the latest radio they have made. No one has any peace when a person of this sort is about. I say this as one who has had experience, because I have some friends whose son is a radio expert. He is the secretary of the London branch of an international radio organization.

    One night last week I went to see these friends at about half past eight, hoping for a quiet talk. Unhappily, from my point of view, Bob, the son, was there. When I went into the room, he was bent over the radio, from which a loud whistle was coming. He did something to it and there was a crack, then a sudden burst of music, and then some more cracks. "Put that thing off, Bob," said Mr. Jones. "This noise is driving me off my head." Bob said he wouldn't make any more noise for quite a long time. He wasn't pleased with the way the radio was working and he'd have to see what was wrong with it.

    After some minutes, when his father and I were in the middle of a political discussion, Bob said he was ready to make a test. Again, strange sounds came from the instrument, but before we had time to make a protest he put off the current. When I had a look a little later, all the part of the radio seemed to be on the floor. "Now we'll have peace," said Mr. Jones. " "Bob is never happy till the thing is in bits." But Mrs. Jones wasn't at all pleased, because it was almost nine, which is the time for the news, and she had been waiting for it. Bob put the radio together again as quickly s possible, and at ten minutes past nine he got it turned on.

    The voice of the news reader was saying "His point was that the agreement had been broken by this new political move. There have been further developments today and the position is now very serious." Naturally, we hadn't any idea what the man was talking about.

    "There was a fire this morning." the voice went on, "in a building at Watford which had a store of grain in it. The building was near a railway line and the trains had to be stopped from 11:30 till 12:45 because firemen were working on the line. The firemen got the flames under control and there was no damage to any other buildings.

    In Paris yesterday, a man was put to death for -----."

    We had no chance of hearing why the man was put to death, because at that point Bob had got a station in Holland in the belief that it would be giving news in English at this time. But he was wrong. It was a programme in Dutch and we weren't able to make out a word of it. Turning the button again, he got Moscow. A Russian voice was saying, "That is the end of our news in English." This would have made anyone but Bob give up the attempt, but he went on turning the button till he had got three more stations. From one of them they were playing phonograph records, from another they were giving weather details to ships, and from the third a woman was saying "Good night, little ones" in that oversweet voice used by some persons when they are talking to the very young.

    It was now clear that we were not going to get any news, so we went on with our discussion, hoping that Bob was as tired of the radio as we were. But Bob is never tired of playing with his radio. He now had it turned on to short wave, which is used for long distances, and the noises it made put me in mind of the sea in a wind. We had trouble in hearing one another and our voices became louder and louder, till Mr. Jones made another feeble protest and Mrs. Jones put her hands to her ears. "Give me another minute," said Bob. I'm getting America. Conditions aren't good tonight. Ah! That's New York." Through what seemed like the noise of wind and waves came the sound of a band playing dance music. Taking into account the fact that we were in the middle of London, with electric apparatus in operation all round, the music coming through quite well, but we were certainly getting no pleasure out of it. Bob, who was feeling very pleased with himself, was dancing to the music. He was quite pained by his mother's request to put if off quickly because the noise was getting on her nerves. However, he put the radio off straight away and took up a newspaper to have a look at the radio news.

    Mr. Jones gave me a drink and took one himself. "As I have said," he was starting, going back to his argument against making two separate authorities responsible for building new houses, "this division of power -----". But he got no further, because Bob got up from his seat, saying "Oh, they're doing it tonight."   "Doing what?" was our natural question.  "The first act of 'The Hand of Death.' that crime play we were talking about yesterday," Bob said, pointing at the radio programme. "They did it some weeks back and it was said that the acting was very good. The start was at a quarter to ten but we'll get most of it if I put the radio on now." "Put it on for a minute," said Mrs. Jones, who generally lets her son have his way, "and we'll see what it's like. If it’s as gripping as the play they did the night before last, we'll keep it on. Is that all right, Fred?" Mr. Jones made a sound which was taken as a sign of agreement and the radio went on.

    A man was crying out "Let me in! Let me in!" and hammering with his hands on a door. Then a woman, in a voice full of fear, said "D-don't do that! I haven't done anything wrong. I didn't take the jewels, truly I didn't. They were taken by _____". There was a sudden loud bang, which made us all give a jump, and the sound of a body going down on the floor. At the same time, the woman gave a cry which made one's blood go cold.

    "Has the radio gone wrong again, dear?" said Mrs. Jones, looking at Bob over her glasses. Bob gave a laugh. "No, mother, that is the play. Someone let off a gun." "Whatever it is, it's a disgusting noise and we'll have no more of it," said his father. "Then let me put on some soft music before we go to bed," said Bob, who, as you have seen, is a young man with only one idea. But Mr. Jones made it clear that he had put up with enough for one night.

    And so had I. Though it was only five minutes past ten, I got up, saying that it was late and I had a long distance to go. There were protests from all the family. "But it is quite early!" "You don't seem to have been here any time at all." "We see so little of you." "I still have so much to say to you." But I saw Bob's fingers playing lovingly with the controls of the radio and I would not let them keep me. It was hard on Mr. Jones, who had been looking forward to a good argument. "We'll go on with our discussion another time," I said, feeling I had been a little unkind. His face became brighter. He has a quick look in Bob's direction, and then, with an air of letting me into a secret, made the suggestion that he might come to my place for a change. "Yes, certainly," said I. "It'll be very quiet. I've no radio or phonograph to put on for your amusement. But I'll be very pleased to see you. When will you come?" "I'll come tomorrow, if I may," he said, so readily that I was unable to keep back a smile.


dssda        Read Carefully, this are some sentences of the text, and here is the explanation form them.

The five further international words which come into this Step are: dance (-er, -ing, -ed), phonograph (CD, DVD, MP3), programme (program), propaganda, radio (AM, SW, LW, FM, stereo), and television (TV).

Turned on: Put on by turning the control.

Verse: Verse is frequently broken up into groups of lines which are themselves named verses.

Makes thought impossible: Thought is here the act of having thoughts.

As for plays: As for ('in connection with'), used, as here, when going on to some further thing, an example of a different sort.

Actors: Act takes -or in place of -er. By expansion, acting is taking part in a play, and an actor is a man who does acting. This is the only sense in which the -or form is used.

To their taste: A thing is to ones's taste when it is pleasing to one, in agreement with one's taste.

Delicate ears: The sense of delicate here is 'having a reaction to very small changes or details'. An apparatus which is delicate in this sense is generally delicate in the root sense of being readily damaged.

Viewpoint: A person's viewpoint or point of view (see later in this Step) is the point, or angle, from which he is viewing some question, fact, and so on.

The different stations: A place from which radio programmes are sent out is a radio station. In certain special connections, the word station is used for a place which is a controlling point in a system of operations. For example, a place where a military force is regularly kept for purposes of control is a military station.

They have . . . by heart: To have anything by heart is to have it in one's memory.

Say it as one who . . .: say it from the point of view of a person who . . . See the note on as a test.

Branch: When an organization or business has a number of different offices or stores, in different places, any one of these offices or stores is a branch of it.

A loud whistle: A whistle is here the sound made by a whistle.

Driving me off my head: The sense of driving here is 'sending, forcing'.

Put off the current: Current has a special use in the sense of 'electric current'.

His point was: The point of a statement or argument or discussion is the chief idea or purpose of it. In the same way, the point of or about a thing is whatever makes it interesting or important. In a wider sense, any fact or detail to which attention is given may be talked of as a point.

This new political move: Something done with the purpose of causing some desired effect is a move. This sense comes from the moves which are made on a squared board in certain forms of play : chess, checkers, go, etc.

A store of grain: An amount of anything kept for future use is a store. A store may be said to keep a store of goods. Grain is the word used for the seeds of grass-plants used for food. The separate seeds are like grains of substance. Wheat, rye, oats, etc.

Railway line: The rails, or lines of metal on which the train goes.

Firemen:  Men trained for fighting fires.

Make out a word of it:  Get the sense of even one word of it. To make out anything is to get it clear to one's senses or one's mind, to see it, and so on, clearly.

Turning the button: A button-like part which is turned or pushed for the purpose of controlling an apparatus is named a button.

Phonograph records: Plates on which sound is recorded for producing on a phonograph. The sense here is 'music'.

The very young: Certain names of qualities may be used in this way with the in front of them with the sense 'those who are (young, old, and so on.)'

Turned on to short wave:  Turned on and with the wave control turned to the short wave system.

Put me in mind of: To put a person in mind of something is to make the thought of it come into his mind by being like it or having some connection with it.

Ah!: Certain sounds are used more or less internationally as a sign of some feeling. Ah!, is here used as a sign of pleasure or surprise.

The sound of a band: The word band is used for a group of persons united by working together or having some other common interest (as by a band), and specially, as here, for a group playing music together.

Taking into account: One takes something into account when one gives attention to it before forming an opinion or making decision.

In operation:  Working, being worked. In the same way, in use (being used.)

Dancing to the music:  Dancing in harmony with the rhythm of the music.

Pained:  Wounded in one's feelings. The “-ed” form of pain is not used in the physical sense.

Getting on her nerves: A thing gets on one's nerves when it is troubling one in a way which makes it hard to keep one's self-control.

Straight away: Without waiting, without any time between.

Two separate authorities: Here authorities mean persons or organizations in positions of authority.

Division of power: By expansion, the condition of having divisions or the act of making divisions is a division.

Further: The forms further, furthest may be used in place of farther, farthest, specially if one is not talking about physical distance. Further has the second sense of 'more, addition' (He took no further interest).

Oh!: A cry of interest, surprise, pain, or shock.

The first act: A division of a play is named an act.

Some weeks back:  Some weeks before the present. Back is used with time-words in this sense.

Have his way: To have one's way is to do what one has a desire to do.

See what it's like: What . . . like? Is used loosely when desiring a general account of something. Mrs. Jones did not desire to see what other play the radio play was like. She was interested in seeing what sort of a play it was and how good it was.

Gripping: The sense here is 'having a strong effect on the feelings, gripping the interest'.

The night before last:  The night before last night. Give attention to the fact that night and so on is not put in after last in statements of this form.

Crying out:  Crying in a loud voice.

Hammering with his hands on: Giving blows on with his hands as with a hammer.

I haven't done anything wrong: That is, wrong in the sense of being against the law or against right behaviour.

Truly: Here, 'it is true that'. The e of true is dropped before the addition of -ly.

A sudden loud bang: There are a small number of words copying some sound which are clear to everyone and may be used in Basic. Bang is the sound like that of a gun or of a fall on something hard.

Give a jump: A sudden uncontrolled motion of the body caused by surprise, fear, and so on is talked of as a jump.

Made one's blood go cold:  Here go mean become. It is used in this sense only before

Done wrong: Certain names of qualities, with which it generally gives the idea of a change of condition by a natural process. At this stage the learner will be wise to make use only of the examples which he comes across in reading. The blood is said to go cold when one is overcome with fear. To go wrong is to 'get out of order'.

Let off a gun: Letting off a gun is the act of firing it.

Soft music: Here, soft mean not loud or sharp.

We see so little of you: We see you so infrequently, for such a little time.

With the air of: With the look of. By expansion, air is used with the sense of 'way of acting, look, as the outer sign of some feeling, quality'.

Letting me into a secret: A secret thing or fact is a secret. To let a person into a secret is to give him knowledge of it, and the opposite of this is to keep something (a) secret from him. To keep a secret, simply, is to let nobody into it.

Said I:  Take note of this common change of order with say when used in this way.

    The sense of the complex word oversweet is clear without a note.


1. In every one of these examples, the first statement is the key to the second.

(a)   After starting badly, the play got better
      The last ________ was the best.

(b)   By touching a bit of wood with his fingers, the expert was able to say what sort of tree it came from.
      The expert had ________ fingers.

(c)   The train came to a stop because some cows were in front of it. 
      The cows had got onto the ________.

(d)   The farmer will keep all his apples for the winter.
      When winter comes, he will have a ________ of apples.

(e)   My secretary was able to give me the names without looking at the list.
      The secretary had the names _____ ________ ________.

2. Writing in Basic, give some of the arguments for and against having a radio.


3. Give a Basic word which is used for:

(a) A person's way of looking at some question.

(b) Wounded in one's feelings.

(c) Taking part in a play.

(d) Man trained to put out fires.

(e) Keeping the attention, having a strong effect on the feelings.

(f) Group of persons playing instruments of music.

4. Put down these words and make clear, in Basic, what their sense is:

(a) The name of a person formed form act.

(b) The -ly form of true.

(c) A form which may be used in place of fartherest.

(d) A word copying a sound.

(e) Two cries which are used as a sign of one's feelings.

5. Make statements using:

(a) A person's way of looking at some question.

(b) Put . . . in mind of

(c) To his taste

(d) Straight away

(e) Take into account

6. Make these statement complete by putting a word in every space.

(a) His writing was so bad that I wasn't able to _____ _____ his letter.

(b) The weather is warm now but tow or three weeks _____ there was snow.

(c) He was so certain that he was right that the other let him _____ _____ way.

(d) Have you _____ anyone _____ our secret?

(e) The chief office is in London but the business has _____ in almost every country in Europe.

7. Give the answers in Basic:

(a) What news was given on the radio about a fire at Watford?

(b) The suggestion is made that there are four different forms of behaviour in relation to the radio. What are they?

(c) What noises came from the Jones's radio when I went into their room?

(d) Why was Bob interested in hearing the radio play?

(e) Why did it seem to Mrs. Jones that the radio had gone wrong?

(f) How did Mr. Jones make the suggestion that he might come to my place?

(g) What was the programme from America?

(h) What was Bob's reaction to his mother's request to put the radio off?

(i) Why were we unable to get the news from the station in Holland or Russia?

(j) What is Bob the secretary of?

(k) When did Mr. Hones say "Now we'll have peace."?

(l) When the man in the play said "Let me in!" what was he doing?