# Seven o'clock vs 7 o' clock

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#### bambina-in-nero

##### Senior Member
Is it possible to indicate the time with letters, or just with numbers?

eg 7 o'clock
Is it possible to write seven o'clock (or any other time) or it's a mistake?

• #### DocPenfro

##### Senior Member
Is it possible to write seven o'clock (or any other time) or is it a mistake?
When I was at school (forty-five years ago or so) we were taught that it was a mistake to write numbers of any kind as digits. I suppose our teacher would have made an exception for telephone numbers, and possibly dates like "1066", but the overall principle was pretty rigid. "7 o'clock"? Never in 1,000,000 years.

This convention no longer seems to be widely observed, and it doesn't seem like any great loss.

#### Rover_KE

##### Senior Member
In the modern era, '7 o'clock' is just fine.

I'd never consider writing 'seven o'clock'.

Rover

#### Egmont

##### Senior Member
I would usually use the digit for 7 o'clock, despite the general convention to spell out small numbers. I'd make an exception if this starts a sentence. There, I'd spell it out to start the sentence with an upper-case letter.

#### Copperknickers

##### Senior Member
A good rule to stick to is: numbers under twenty, write out, numbers 21 and over, use digits. It depends entirely on the context of course: if you're writing an essay on mathematics or writing a quick memo, then use digits, but if it's a quality article on literature or history etc, then that rule is obligatory.

#### ewie

##### Senior Member
A good rule to stick to
That's a good rule, CK ... but it's new to me

#### Copperknickers

##### Senior Member
That's a good rule, CK ... but it's new to me
I never said it was a famous rule, just one I've generally found to be good, personally.

#### ewie

##### Senior Member
Have you reviewed the existing threads concerning "o'clock?"
Have you, SDG?

Okay here's another good rule, which I learnt in school (late 60s / early 70s): all numbers from 1-12 should always be written as words; all other numbers should always be written as numbers.
It's a rule I've always adhered to, apart from the 23,009 amendments I've made to it over the decades.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is no single over-arching rule: folks pretty much do as they please. (Unless they're bound ~ or feel they're bound ~ by one of those infuriating 'style guides'.)

#### JustKate

##### Senior Member
I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call it a "rule," Ewie, but I do think it's rare to see a time written out - times are generally indicated in figures. You might find "five o'clock" written out from time to time (or Twelve O'Clock High - which is the name of a famous war movie, Bambina, in case you didn't know), but when was the last time you saw, for example, "five forty-five o'clock" or "fifteen minutes to six" written out?

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