Quarter Past – Definition with Examples
12 minutes read
Created: December 18, 2023
Last updated: January 2, 2024
Welcome to another enlightening post brought to you by the team at Brighterly, your goto platform for making math easy and fun for children. Today, we’ll be unravelling the concept of “quarter past”. You may have heard this phrase thrown around quite frequently when discussing time, but have you ever stopped to consider its meaning?
Essentially, the term “quarter past” signifies that 15 minutes have elapsed past a particular hour. The concept may sound simple, but for young children learning to tell time, it is a significant milestone. By fully understanding “quarter past”, they not only learn to express time differently but also, they embark on a journey to better manage their own time. If we consider an hour as a whole, 15 minutes would be a quarter of it. Hence, when we say it’s a quarter past 7, it means that 15 minutes have passed since 7 o’clock.
What Is Quarter Past?
The phrase “quarter past” often tickles the ears of young children when they first hear it. But what does it mean? The term “quarter past” is used to denote that 15 minutes have elapsed after a particular hour. When we talk about a quarter past, we’re talking about a quarter of an hour, or 15 minutes, that has passed since the last hour. As a unit of time, this concept can be slightly confusing for kids to grasp. Yet, understanding this will open up a new way for them to express time and, more importantly, manage their time more efficiently.
The clock face is divided into 60 minutes and if we consider an hour as a whole, 15 minutes represent onefourth of it. So, when we say it’s a quarter past 7, it implies that 15 minutes have passed after 7 o’clock. Therefore, the current time is 7:15. The practice of dividing the hour into quarters is quite common and is a crucial part of understanding time.
Definition of Quarter Past
The term “quarter past” comes from the old English way of telling time. In its simplest terms, a quarter past means 15 minutes past a given hour. To understand this better, imagine a pizza divided into four equal parts. Each piece represents a quarter of the pizza. Similarly, an hour is also divided into four quarters, each equivalent to 15 minutes.
If the time is 15 minutes past the hour, we say it is a quarter past. If it’s 30 minutes past the hour, it’s half past. If it’s 45 minutes past the hour, we say it’s a quarter to the next hour. We will discuss these terms more in the following sections.
Origin of the Term “Quarter Past”
The phrase “quarter past” stems from a time when people started to partition the hour into segments for practical purposes. The exact origin is unknown but the term can be traced back to the late Middle Ages when mechanical clocks began to appear in Europe.
Historically, people divided the day into units based on nature, like sunrise, sunset, and the movement of the sun across the sky. When mechanical clocks came into existence, it became possible to further segment time. This new way of perceiving time allowed for better planning and scheduling, facilitating a smoother flow of activities.
Understanding the Concept of Quarter Past
The concept of quarter past isn’t too complex once you visualize the clock. A traditional clock has two hands: the minute hand and the hour hand. For understanding quarter past, we will focus on the minute hand.
When the minute hand is pointing at 12, it’s at the top of the hour. If it moves 15 minutes, or a quarter way around the clock, we say it’s a quarter past the hour. The term “quarter” is used because an hour is divided into 60 minutes and 15 minutes is onefourth or a quarter of 60. So, if the time is a quarter past 5, the minute hand is pointing at 3, and it means that 15 minutes have passed since 5 o’clock.
At Brighterly, we believe that practice is the key to mastery. That’s why we invite you to explore our time worksheets, where you can find an array of additional practice questions, complete with answers.
Significance of Quarter Past in Timekeeping
Understanding quarters of an hour is a significant milestone in a child’s journey to grasp timekeeping. It’s not only a math concept but also a life skill that’s important for time management. Knowing how to interpret “quarter past” is a fundamental part of being able to schedule activities, arrive at appointments on time, and generally understand the flow of the day. It provides a more precise way to express time and helps children develop their temporal awareness.
The “quarter past” concept also lays the foundation for understanding other fractions. If a child can understand that a quarter of an hour equates to 15 minutes, they can apply this understanding to learning quarters of other entities, making it an essential building block in their mathematical education.
Examples of Quarter Past
Now that we’ve defined what a quarter past is, let’s provide some examples to make it clearer.
 If someone says it’s a quarter past two, they mean it’s 2:15.
 If it’s a quarter past 10 in the night, it means the time is 10:15 PM.
 If your favorite show starts a quarter past 7 in the evening, you should be ready to watch it at 7:15 PM.
These examples should help clarify how the term is used in daily conversation.
Difference Between Quarter Past, Half Past, and Quarter To
When we look at a clock, we often talk about it in terms of halves and quarters. But what do these terms mean?
A “quarter past” is 15 minutes after the hour. A “half past” is 30 minutes after the hour. And a “quarter to” is a way of saying we’re 15 minutes away from the next hour.
For instance, if it’s a quarter past 8, the time is 8:15. If it’s half past 8, the time is 8:30. If it’s a quarter to 9, the time is 8:45, which means it’s 15 minutes to 9 o’clock.
Understanding these terms will help your child gain a holistic understanding of how to tell time, crucial for daily life.
Teaching Kids the Concept of Quarter Past
The concept of a quarter past can initially seem a bit tricky for kids. Here are some techniques to make it easier:

Relate it to reallife: Children learn best when concepts are related to their daily life. Talk about time in terms of a quarter past when discussing routine activities, like meal times or TV shows.

Use a teaching clock: A teaching clock is a great tool to illustrate the concept of quarter past visually. By moving the hands to show a quarter past, you can effectively demonstrate the idea.

Make it interactive: Ask kids what time it will be a quarter past the current hour, or what time it was a quarter past the last hour.
By introducing the concept of quarter past in an engaging manner, children can master the concept more comfortably.
Activities to Understand Quarter Past
Activities can make learning fun and interactive. Here are a few suggested activities to help kids understand the concept of quarter past:

Crafting a DIY Clock: Children can make their own paper clock and move the hands to different positions, practicing how to tell time.

Playing TimeBased Games: Games such as “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” can be adapted to include quarters of an hour.

Time Telling Worksheets: Worksheets can be a useful tool, especially for visual learners. You can find plenty of printable options online.
Remember, practice is the key to mastering any new skill!
How to Communicate Quarter Past in Different Languages
The term quarter past is communicated differently across various languages. Here are a few examples:
 In Spanish, a quarter past six is “las seis y cuarto”.
 In French, you say “six heures et quart”.
 German speakers say “viertel nach sechs”.
While different cultures may express time differently, the concept of a quarter past remains universal.
Practice Problems on Quarter Past
To reinforce the concept of quarter past, you can engage your child with practice problems.
 If it’s a quarter past 3 now, what time was it 30 minutes ago?
 If you finish your homework a quarter past 5, and dinner is at half past 6, how much free time do you have before dinner?
 If it’s a quarter past 10 in the morning, and your friend’s birthday party is at half past 12 in the afternoon, how much time do you have until the party?
These problems not only reinforce the concept but also help children develop their problemsolving skills.
Conclusion
Time is a precious resource, and learning to tell time accurately is a critical skill. Through this post, we at Brighterly aimed to simplify the concept of “quarter past” for our young learners.
Understanding what “quarter past” means is more than just a mathematical exercise—it’s a fundamental life skill that empowers kids to better manage their activities and use their time wisely. By using practical examples, engaging activities, and clear explanations, we believe that kids can quickly master this concept.
But remember, learning is a journey, and every journey begins with a single step. Today, you’ve taken a significant step in learning to tell time, but don’t stop here! Practice regularly, and soon, you’ll find yourself confidently reading the clock and understanding time expressions like “quarter past”.
Thank you for being a part of the Brighterly family! We are here to guide you every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions on Quarter Past
Why is it called a quarter past?
The term “quarter past” comes from the practice of dividing an hour into four equal parts or quarters. When 15 minutes or one quarter of an hour has passed from a particular hour, we refer to it as a “quarter past”. Just like a dollar can be divided into quarters, so can an hour, making it an easy and relatable way to describe time.
What time is it when it’s a quarter past six?
When we say it’s a quarter past six, it means that 15 minutes have passed since 6 o’clock. Therefore, the time is 6:15. It’s a precise way of expressing time, particularly useful when you need to plan or schedule activities.
What is the difference between half past and quarter past?
When we say it’s half past a certain hour, we mean that 30 minutes have passed since that hour. On the other hand, when we say it’s a quarter past, we mean that 15 minutes have passed. Both terms help us to express time in a more precise manner, with the former indicating the midpoint of an hour, and the latter, a quarter of an hour.
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