Question Video: Telling Time in Words to the Quarter Hour Mathematics

Fill in the blank: What time is it? It is quarter to _.


Video Transcript

Fill in the blank: What time is it? It is quarter to what.

In this question, we’re given an analog clock, which is a clock that has hands on it, and we’re being asked what time it is. Now, we’ve got part of a sentence here to help us. It is quarter to something. What does it mean for a time to be quarter to? We know that an analog clock face like this shows one hour all the way around. We also know that if we split the clock face into four equal parts, this is the same as splitting it into quarters, quarters of a whole hour.

Now we know when the minute hand points to the number 12 like this, it’s an o’clock time. But when the minute hand hasn’t quite got to the 12 yet and is pointing to the number nine, it’s still got a quarter turn to go until it gets to the 12. That’s how we know this is a quarter-to time; the minute hand is pointing to the nine. But what number are we going to use to fill in the blank? It’s quarter to what?

To understand this, we need to look at the hour hand. We can see that the hour hand isn’t pointing to a number; it’s in between two numbers. It’s in between the number three and four. In other words, we’ve already gone past three o’clock, and we’re on our way to four o’clock, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet. But we know that once the minute hand makes that final quarter turn, it will be four o’clock. It is quarter to four. Instead of looking backwards at the o’clock time that’s already gone, we’re now looking forwards to the one that’s coming up. The time on the clock is quarter to four.

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