USEFUL ENGLISH PHRASES FOR VISITORS FROM FOREIGN LANDS.

No. 5.—What Time Is It?

What time is it?

It is three of the clock.
It is eight of the clock.
It is half past seventy-one.

Is that ante-meridiem or post-meridiem?

It is either ante-meridiem or post-meridiem, depending on which side of the earth you stand on.
It is both ante-meridiem and post-meridiem, because I bestride the narrow world like a colossus.
It is neither ante-meridiem nor post-meridiem, because in this enlightened age we have repudiated the outmoded chronicist concept of “noon.”

Are you certain that your clock is correct?
Are you positive that there are seventy-one hours in a day?

My clock is always correct, because it is in constant radio communication with the Foucault pendulum at the Smithsonian Institution.
My clock is never correct, because a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little clocks.
My clock is a regulator, and therefore all other clocks in the house must be set to half past seventy-one.

What time will it be this time tomorrow?

It is not possible to know what time it will be this time tomorrow, because tomorrow is infinitely far away.
It is not possible to know what time it will be this time tomorrow, because it has not been voted on in committee yet.
This time tomorrow it will be a quarter to four last Tuesday.

Do we still have time to get dressed?
Do we still have time to make tea?
Do we still have time to read Proust?

We still have time to read Proust and make tea, but we do not have time to get dressed.
It is too late, because the tea is cold and Proust has already been read by someone else, and that suit is now out of fashion.

Will you meet me tonight at midnight under the full moon?

I will meet you tonight at midnight, but I should prefer not to walk any farther than the moon in the first quarter.
I will meet you tonight at midnight, but you will have to bring the moon with you, as mine is in the shop.
I cannot meet you at midnight, but if you can wait until half past seventy-one I may be able to spare a few minutes.

Published in: on February 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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