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Pedants' corner

It's three hours from here...

(17 Posts)
InnocentBystander Fri 08-Nov-19 16:42:02

What? By camel, bicycle, airliner, or what? Miles. kilometres, leagues, even, but hours are a measure of time not distance. Similarly why are areas not expressed in square feet, square metres, acres, hectares, et cetera? Football pitches and their area are not only a mystery to a large proportion of the population, but they are not even a standard in their field! Pun intended! ...and breathe...

SueDonim Fri 08-Nov-19 21:20:20

I had a friend who leant to drive late in life and always expressed distance by how much petrol it took, as in 'Oh, it's about a gallon's drive.' confused

She doesn't drive nowadays - just as well!

LullyDully Sat 09-Nov-19 07:53:18

To tell someone how far a place is in terms of time is perfectly acceptable in my book. Why ever not? Possibly more helpful than the actual distance in miles.

With regards to ' football pitches ' this gives a good equivalent size to visualise mentally.

Anniebach Sat 09-Nov-19 08:34:15

I mostly use time not miles , my younger daughter lives a five hour drive away, no idea how many miles that is .

grandtanteJE65 Sat 09-Nov-19 12:28:43

The underlying assumption when some place is described as "an hour away" is surely that you will be travelling there by car and obeying the speed limit?

It is admittedly annoying for those of us who don't own a car and will be going by bike or on foot and have to convert an hour's drive to the time it will take us to get there.

If, like me, you need to know the actual distance because you either will walk or cycle to the place, it is easy to find a route plan using Google maps, or some other homepage, that will give you the exact distance from your address to the required place.

This tells you whether it is a distance you want and are able to walk or cycle, or whether you will need public transport to get there.

Some route planners will tell you how far away it is by bike, if cycling means taking country roads and the mileage is usually quoted along the motorway.

There is nothing new in describing distances using the length of time it takes to reach the place you are going to.

Formerly, soldiers talked of " a day's march", school children of a "two hour walk to school" and so on.

InnocentBystander Sat 09-Nov-19 15:20:04

In those cases the means of travel is defined: 'march' and 'walk'. If anyone is so innumerate that they cannot estimate the travel time when given the distance then I despair for the British education system. In any case the duration will depend on the road conditions obtaining at the time of travel, whereas the distance remains. Perhaps I should call myself a taxi...

MamaCaz Sat 09-Nov-19 18:14:17

It's usually obvious which is meant if not specified, isn't it?
An obvious exception, which would call for clarification, being of the "the hotel is only five minutes from the beach" type ☺

Hellomonty Sat 09-Nov-19 18:26:34

Time rather than miles surely is more useful depending on context? For example to get from where I am to both Liverpool and Inverness would take around 4 hours but there is 60 miles more distance to get to Liverpool. For planning purposes the time is far more useful.

Urmstongran Sat 09-Nov-19 18:55:35

Apparently there's an old Irish joke (immortalized in The Quiet Man) where a tourist is lost and asks a local how to get somewhere.

The local replies, "Well, I wouldn't start from here."
🤣🤣

Callistemon Sat 09-Nov-19 19:52:36

I'll put my hands up - guilty.

It's used routinely in Australia.
It means just what GrandTante says - by car, observing the speed limit, eg "take the first turn right, about four
hours west"!

grannyticktock Sat 09-Nov-19 20:30:01

It really is not always clear, with smaller distances. When booking holiday accommodation, for instance, we may be told that a cottage is "five minutes from the pub" or "ten minutes from the beach" - but is that walking or driving? Also, my ten minutes' walk (fairly brisk) might take a less fit person, or a family with a pushchair, 20 minutes. It's much clearer to state the distance if it's a few miles or less.

With longer distances, it makes more sense to give an approximate driving time. Visitors from other countries often don't understand how long it can take to drive, say, 25 miles in the lanes of Cornwall or on 10 miles on the M25 on a Friday afternoon.

rosecarmel Sat 09-Nov-19 23:29:58

I lived 21 minutes away from NYC at midnight and anywhere from 1- 2 1/2 hours away during 5 o'clock rush hour traffic-

WOODMOUSE49 Sun 10-Nov-19 00:06:53

I agree Grannyticktock.

I live in Cornwall.

One journey I do regularly is 5 miles. Took me 20 mins to do it this morning.

H1954 Sun 10-Nov-19 00:13:23

My mum worked with a chap some years ago who was adamant that the petrol in his car was on a timed meter and the faster he drove to get to his destination the less petrol he used! Blimey, it was hard work getting through to him! 😂

Resurgam123 Tue 07-Jan-20 09:23:35

When we regularly visited our grandsons we had the time right down to I hour 40 mins. Short of hold ups.

They are both at school now so week day visits are out.

TrendyNannie6 Mon 13-Jan-20 13:31:04

😂😂H1954 Love it

Farmor15 Mon 13-Jan-20 16:00:22

I agree that mode of transport should be specified, but time taken to cover the same distance can vary hugely depending on road and traffic. Google maps is pretty good at estimating time to a destination, seems to take into account average speed possible and traffic.