Submitted by Dyske  •  November 30, 2002

Five of Ten

If you say “five of ten” in the context of time, you mean 5 minutes to 10 o’clock. But, why is this? “of” is a possessive preposition, so one would think that “five of ten” would be 5 minutes that belong to 10 o’clock. That is: 5 after 10.

Comments Sort by:   Oldest first  •  Latest first  •  Rating

that is why in English we say Five to ten and five past Ten not of.

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=of

17. Before; until: five minutes of two.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

There's an older way to say that: "It lacks five minutes of ten." That is, you're five minutes short of ten o'clock. When that got shortened in everyday use, the answer to "What time is it?" became "It's five minutes of ten."

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

To add more confusion... O'clock is a contraction of "of the clock." Must be an Irishman involved in this time thing somewhere :-)

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment