Seven o'clock vs 7 o' clock

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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
    English - British
    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.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    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.


    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    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.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    Have you reviewed the existing threads concerning "o'clock?"

    3 o'clock
    3 o'clock position
    at about 10 o'clock - grammar
    at about 8 o'clock
    be around 10 o`clock
    by 9 o' clock
    By the time it's nine o clock in the morning, everyone
    Can we talk on Skype at about eight o'clock?
    eight o'clock curtain
    eight o'clock sharp
    Five o'clock / Merienda
    Five o'clock shadow
    five o'clock shadow"
    half past three o'clock
    He can handle the five o'clock shadow ...
    how about one o'clock?
    I am to be at 6 o'clock
    I had lunch at ten o'clock
    I leave to catch the bus at 8 o'clock
    I may not be able to get there before ten o’clock. - grammar
    I spoke to him last night around ten o'clock.
    I'll arrive in London on the 9 o'clock/ by train. - grammar
    I'm going to school at/by 5 o'clock (preposition) - grammar
    it must have been eight o'clock - grammar
    It passes 3 o'clock
    it will be held at 3 o clock
    John it's 8 o'clock. Wake up! Let's go work in the garden.
    Last night a lady called us at ten o clock at night
    No, if at all possible, I'd prefer two o'clock.
    Now is exact [it is exactly] four o clock!
    o'clock / a.m. - p.m. - grammar
    o'clock direction
    o'clock sharp
    On the dot / o´clock
    one o' clock wednesdays
    Our date FOR 10 o´clock
    Shall we say two o'clock?
    She won't be back until 3 o'clock.
    She'll be back at 3 o'clock.
    six o'clock position
    synonyms of o'clock
    tell me when it's XX o'clock
    Thank you, I thought it was four o'clock on Tuesday
    the six o'clock news
    time + sneak up - 5 o'clock was quickly sneaking up on Maria
    to meet my sister at one o'clock
    until about 6 o'clock...
    until it's ten o'clock
    we arrive.....Paris at 8 o'clock - grammar
    what o'clock is it?/what is the time?/what time is it?
    Your appointment has been rescheduled for one o'clock tomorrow.


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

    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'.)


    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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