EN: an hour and a half / one and a half hours

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by lilouxrs, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. lilouxrs Senior Member

    France, French
    Hi there,

    I was wondering if "an hour and a half" is correct in English. I know "one and a half hours" is more idiomatic, but is it the only acceptable way of saying?

    I'll be there in an hour and a half
    I'll be there in one and a half hours

  2. phizzwizard New Member

    Filipino, English
    Both are correct but the second one is more formal than the first. I think "I'll be there in an hour and a half" is more appropriate and more pleasing to the ear.
  3. Big Hoser

    Big Hoser Senior Member

    It's purely a phonetic choice, I believe. It would not be considered an idiomatic difference, since they're both idiomatic expressions. I believe (as a side note) that you meant one leans more toward colloquialism. But I digress.

    Replace "hour and a half" by a different amount of time - say, 2.5 hours. There is no choice but to say, "I'll be there in two and a half hours." This is the second format in your post.

    Now try the original 1.5 hour sentence, but try saying it as "1.5" and not "one and a half". "I'll be there in 1.5 hours" (though, granted, no one would normally say that).

    The use of "a/an" is common when referring to "one" of whatever it is you're discussing. And, as phizzwizard pointed out, it certainly is more pleasing to the ear, which is most likely why the language evolved that way.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  4. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I'm sorry but two hours and a half would be equally valid… Why are you saying that two and a half hours is the only option? :confused: (Note that I agree that the latter sounds better, but this is not to say that the former is incorrect.)
  5. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Probably because it's rather hard to imagine anyone actually saying "I'll be there in two hours and half"!
    Grammatically correct it may be (?), but natural/idiomatic it is not. :p

    For that matter, we don't usually say "I'll be there in one hour and a half" either. Instead, we say "...in one and a half hours" or "... in an hour and a half." Generally speaking, when we use a cardinal number (one, two, etc.), we don't like to separate it from "and a half"... but when we use the singular indefinite article, the separation "an X and a half" sounds fine.

    Of course there is also the (more scientific) phrasing "...in one point five hours."
  6. Mikamocha Senior Member

    Desolé Maitre Capello but I agree with Jan: the best option is I'll be there in "an hour and a half"; it sounds a lot more natural.

    Also "I'll be there in 2 and a half hours". If someone told me they would be at my house in two hours and a half, I'd probably have to ask them to repeat themselves. :)
  7. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Although it is likely far less common than two and a half hours, I maintain that two hours and a half is not unidiomatic, at least to the Brits. (I've actually heard a British native say that very phrase…) Is there a difference in usage between AmE and BrE? Or is it just the person I heard who made a "mistake"?
  8. joelleoj Member

    I've heard both before, but I would say it's more common to hear "an hour and a half" and "two and a half hours". Grammatically, though, both versions are correct.

    Personally, I've said "one and a half hours" before; but I'm not sure about "two hours and a half", even though I have heard it said before.

    Hope this isn't too confusing!
  9. Mikamocha Senior Member

    One and a half hours sounds good to me too, although I can't really tell the reason why-it just does.

    Maitre, it's quite possible that the difference is AmE and British English. British English tends to be more proper and grammatically correct than American English (I have yet to hear a Brit say "ain't" :).
  10. EnFrDe

    EnFrDe Member

    English (UK)
    Mikamocha, I'm British and I say "ain't" all the time!! Anyway...

    I agree with pretty much everyone else - an hour and a half, and two and a half hours, are the most natural. The others aren't grammatically incorrect, I would use one and a half hours, but never two hours and a half - it just doesn't sound natural to me.
  11. Mikamocha Senior Member

    Whoops-thanks for correcting me! :)

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