time lengths in hours and minutes

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I'm translating into English an article about the findings of a sociological survey referencing a lot of data on time lengths: "the average family spends 3 hours and 23 minutes watching television", "the average child spends 2 hours and 47 minutes on homework", "unemployed males spend shopping 2 hours and 51 minutes", etc. Is it acceptable to express the times lengths with figures only? "The average family spends 3:23 watching television", "the average child spends 2:47 on homework", etc.
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    I would not understand the figures that way. You can dispense with the 'and' - 2 hours 43 minutes. You can also abbreviate the words - 2 h 43 min. But not mentioning the units of measurement at all makes it all quite mysterious. :)


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would not write the numeral form: spends 3:23 hours. I have never seen this used in a text. Possibly, it would be used on a chart or graph.

    I would write out hours and minutes, and probably use a comma to join them:
    the average family spends 3 hours, 23 minutes watching television.
    though I might write the full form with 'and' as you did.
    the average family spends 3 hours and 23 minutes watching television

    There are likely to be differences of opinion on this.


    Senior Member
    I don't like the 3:23 version and wouldn't use it personally. I don't consider it incorrect though. If I really wanted to use a short form, I would more likely go for 3h 23' or 3h 23m.


    Senior Member
    Another point: The colon separator is also ambiguous, it could be separating hours from minutes or minutes from seconds.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The traditional abbreviation of hour is hr and for minute is min. (I'm aware though that the SI abbreviation for hour is h, but I think in non-technical writing hr is preferred), so I might write 3 hrs 23 mins. I'd understand dadane's version 3h 23m from the context, but I think m is also metre so I would prefer min(s).

    The use of the prime symbol of minutes used to be not uncommon, particularly on record covers, but I don't see it very much these days: 3′ 15″ = 3 minutes, 15 seconds. Hence dadane's first recommendation.
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