General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Does 61 minutes = "hours" in a grammatical sense?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19031points) August 5th, 2010

I was talking with someone, and they said that it took them hours to do something – specifically, 61 minutes. I (and everyone else) said that you needed at least 2 hours or 120 minutes in order to say “hours” and not “an hour and blank minutes”. Which of us is correct?

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46 Answers

chocolatechip's avatar

You are correct. You would need at least 2 hours in order to say “hours”.

DominicX's avatar

It’s just an expression. Like, one time Photoshop was taking a while to load and I said that it was taking “hella days”. Obviously it didn’t take days, it was just an expression. :P

ipso's avatar

It depends on the context.

At my local car dealership 1 min of effort = a 60min minimum charge of $148 an hour.

Likewise, 61min of effort = $296 – so charged 2 “hours” of effort.


MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@DominicX No, at first she was just being hyperbolic – but then she decided to stand her ground and say that she was grammatically correct.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ipso Yeah, but that’s because they round up to the nearest hour, not because of a grammatical rule.

NaturallyMe's avatar

You are right of course! :)

ipso's avatar

@papayalily – That’s kind of the point. The world’s grammatical usage is about what happens in the real world – not historical “grammatical rules”.

If your subject was a mechanic, their usage was 100% legit.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ipso No, she was talking about doing the dishes in her own home.

augustlan's avatar

I’d say 61 minutes = “over an hour”, but not “hours”.

thomascruz's avatar

I figure if it were 61 minutes you’d say about an hour, but yeah, I’d wager you’d need more than 1 hour for it to be plural.

ipso's avatar

@papayalily – Oh. Then if she was not a lawyer, plumber, mechanic, or doctor – then maybe she was Irish.

“Never let the truth get in the way of a great story.” –Irish proverb.

ninahenry's avatar

It didn’t take two “hours”, simply because an hour is 60 minutes. I think it’s difficult to time exactly everything you do, but using the phrase “it took me 2 hours” is more colloquial, and if you mean to or not, it is interpreted with some exaggeration (she was in this instance). If you want to be clear on how long something took you, you’d simply have to say in hours and minutes how long it took you.

In this case, you’re right and she’s making rules up that aren’t in place and don’t make sense mathematically (you wouldn’t round up from 2.1 to 3 now would you.)

@ipso that’s a different matter, of payment. They may charge you 2 hours, but that would be because it ‘ran into a second hour’, and they would have made it clear that they charge at the start of the hour, not because you’d actually been in there for 2 hours.

It sounds like she was exaggerating for sympathy that it took her that long to do the dishes, and came clean about it afterwards.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

You’re definitely right. There’s 60 minutes in an hour. 61 minutes doesn’t magically turn into two hours.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ipso A doctor? They don’t normally charge by time – at least, not a specific amount of time (like lawyers do).

She’s not Irish.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Only with lawyers and auto mechanics. I would call “hours” more than two. One to two hours is “an hour or so”.

misstrikcy's avatar

Speaking in general terms, and in the context of your conversation, you are correct.
61 minutes is only 1 Hour and 1 minute.
We often round up to the next hour, but wouldn’t normally do this unless 90mins has passed..

When we chat generally, we are all prone to slight exageration arn’t we..? I wouldn’t worry about it too much, it’s only a small detail.

sleepdoc's avatar

I think that gramatically you could be correct in saying hours. If you look at it from a fractions standpoint it would be 1 and 1/60 hours. But it was probably an exageration in the example you are giving.

Seaminglysew's avatar

You are correct.

mattbrowne's avatar

You need more than one hour or less than one hour to use “hours” but not necessarily 2 hours or more.

61 minutes is 1.017 hours (with an s)

36 minutes is 0.6 hours (with an s)

It works the same way as something like 0.6 seconds.

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GeorgeGee's avatar

It depends upon context. In a business where all time units are rounded UP to the next hour, such as parking lots, the rounding takes place FIRST before cost is determined, so 61 minutes is rounded up to 2 hours. When you get to the cashier, if you can argue that you weren’t in there for hours, it won’t get you very far. You’re going to have to pay for 2 HOURS to get your car out.

gasman's avatar

First, this is isn’t really a grammatical issue—more like semantics.

I think the confusion is between the unit and the measurement. Even if the time period is, say six minutes, you could describe it mathematically as “zero point one hours”.

In an informal sense, something that “takes hours” would imply at least close to 2 hours, as others have said, if not longer. To describe 61 minutes as “hours” is misleading and, language-wise, dishonest.

zenele's avatar

Aren’t 61 minutes simply an hour and a minute?

thomascruz's avatar

Captain Picard is right, it is just an hour and a minute.

mowens's avatar

I’d round down. Unless of course it is for my paycheck and I am hourly. Then I would of course round up to 2, or maybe even 3 hours.

critter1982's avatar

61 minutes is one and 1/60th hours not hour. Just like you wouldn’t say one and a half hour, you would say one and a half hours. You use plurality in anything other than one, for example 0 hours not 0 hour.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@critter1982 But she said “It takes me hour to do it” and then “I’m done after 61 minutes, cuz I said hours”.

LostInParadise's avatar

I think this comes down not so much to grammar but general understanding. There is a problem of how to indicate more than an hour. Less than an hour is easy. If you say something happened in minutes then that means under an hour. Of course you have the analogous problem of whether between one and two minutes is “minutes.” Similarly, something done in less than a minute is done in seconds and the problem of how to indicate between one and two seconds is not likely to be something that would ever turn up.

CMaz's avatar

Six seconds can be hours… If I want it to.

Jeruba's avatar

One and a fraction does not equal two. It’s a matter of meaning, not grammar. If it’s a case where precision is important, you’d say 61 minutes (and however many seconds) rather than such a loose approximation.

Your friend was grasping at straws, betting that even though she didn’t know much about grammar, neither would anyone else.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree 61 minutes is not hours. It is one HOUR and 1 minute. About an hour, just over an hour, but not hours.

downtide's avatar

Two hours is 120 minutes. Anything under 120 minutes is therefore not “hours”.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Jeruba She’s actually highly educated, and quite good in her field, it’s just that once she gets outside of it, she becomes incredibly stupid. Often in ways people stop being stupid once they stop being teens. She hasn’t been a teen for several decades now…

chocolatechip's avatar

I’ve thought about this, and you are both right. It depends on how you define “hours”.

If you consider hours to be discrete entities, that is, you can only have 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, etc hours, then you are correct, because in order to have more than 1 hour, you must have at least 2 hours.

If you consider hours to be a continuous entity, that is, you can have a fraction of an hour, then she would be correct, because in order to have more than 1 hour, you must have at least more than 60 minutes.

With the latter, as mattbrowne stated, 1.00001 hours is greater than 1 hour, thus satisfying the requirement to say “hours”.

perspicacious's avatar

1 1/60 hours. Just like you would say 1½ feet.

sleepdoc's avatar

OK… the question was about grammar. The answer has been given several times that if it is one and some fraction of the next part of anything we use the plural. That is correct grammar.
Therefore in that context, hours is correct.

Precision about what you are saying is a whole different question. Yes if something took 61 minutes then that is the best precise answer (or one hour and one minute).

There is a grammatical standard and a question of precision here. The two don’t have to be interconnected.

mowens's avatar

@sleepdoc BUT in order for something to be plural, there has to be more than one. There is not more than one because you need to have 60 minutes before it is an hour.

This is no different than if I were to say I had $2 when I only have $1.01 in my pocket….

sleepdoc's avatar

@mowen… Grammatically you say 1 and ⅓ apples, our 1 and ½ cakes. There is more than one. The fact the more is not a complete whole does not change that.

mowens's avatar

True, but you specified the whole and fraction part of it. (1 and ½) they just said hours. The difference is that time is a measurement. Cakes are not a measurment. :)

sleepdoc's avatar

@mowens .. Please re read the answer. Like I stated if the person was using the term hours in a fractional sense that is grammtically correct. And I am not sure what you are getting at with the measurement. Hours is a unit of time. Other units 1 and ½ inches, 1 and ¾ centimeters (plurals). I think this holds true across the board, 1 and ½ cups, 1 and ½ pounds, etc.

I think the point that was attempting to be made is that the person was exagerating when they said hours. They were being imprecise. The intial question said does 61 minutes equal hours in a grammatical sense. I am merely stating that it can.

LostInParadise's avatar

The problem is that time, a continuous measure, is treated syntactically as if it is a discreet measure when saying that one worked for hours. It seems to me that time is the only measure that we treat this way. You would not say that you hauled in feet of rope or lost pounds of weight.

Edit. You might talk about tons of freight, but in this case the terms ton may not be meant literally.

mowens's avatar

@sleepdoc I apologize. I had this speed reading class when I was in like 8th grade. It tought us to read and guess what words were. The class was a year long, and they flashed words in front of you, on then off, and you had to read what it said. Now, I read so fast, that sometimes things get missed. I also can’t read outloud now, because I can read faster than I can talk, and I can talk pretty fast.

JLeslie's avatar

If it was one and a half hours, then I guess that would be correct like one and a half cups. If it was 1/60th of a cup of flour, we would use 1 cup plus 1/60th of a cup, or more realistically it might be a tablespoon maybe. One cup and one tablesspoon of flour. That is closer to the example of one hour and one minute. In the example of the flour, it would not be correct or reasonable to say I put cups of flour in the cake, I don’t think.

everephebe's avatar

No, not unless you’re trying to steal someone’s money by being a prat.

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