a (good) five minutes

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
ON
You often use on after the adverbs `early', `late', `far', and their comparative forms, especially at the beginning or end of a sentence, or before a preposition.
The pub where I had arranged to meet Nobby was a good five minutes walk further on.

GOOD
You use good to emphasize the great extent or degree of something.
We waited a good fifteen minutes...

(Collins)

Does an indefinite article before "X minutes" mean that "X minutes" are considered to be a certain span, not "minutes"? E.g: "a good span"
Can I leave "a" out in these phases? Or, should I also leave out "good" for "a" to be omited?
 
  • tomtombp

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I think it means they waited minimum 15 minutes, probably more. But they rounded it down to 15. Adding "a good" indicates that it was probably more. "a" is part of the expression, it can't be omitted.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We waited 15 minutes. "15 minutes" is a specific amount of time. It doesn't need an article.
    "A good 15 minutes" is one of many possible amounts of time. They waited 15:00 or 15:01 or 15:02 or ... or 16:23 or ... They waited one of those, but the speaker doesn't know which one specifically so it needs an indefinite article.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks for pointing out this thread in your other thread, VikNikSor. :)
    We waited 15 minutes. "15 minutes" is a specific amount of time. It doesn't need an article.
    "A good 15 minutes" is one of many possible amounts of time. They waited 15:00 or 15:01 or 15:02 or ... or 16:23 or ... They waited one of those, but the speaker doesn't know which one specifically so it needs an indefinite article.
    I have a different explanation for the use of the indefinite article. I think that the article is used to refer to different versions of the label (in this case 'five minutes'). When somebody says 'five minutes' (I'll be back in five minutes', 'It'll only take you five minutes to finish this'), it really isn't always exactly 'five minutes'. So we can talk about 'a good five minutes' as well as 'a scant five minutes', in the same way that we can talk about 'a good pinch of salt' and 'a scant pinch of salt' in cooking. In the same way, we use the indefinite article with proper nouns: 'a young Shakespeare', 'a love-lorn Shakespeare', etc.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Sometimes for emphasis people add "solid".

    I waited a good solid two hours to ride the Cyclotron at Disney World. I can't say that it was worth it though.
     
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