Italian Language/time expressions

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Question
Dear Maria,

My question is about the use of the words “quarto” and “mezzo” in time expressions.

Can you please tell me if it is true that “quarto” is always used in the masculine gender and that “quarto” is never used in the feminine gender when telling time.  

For example, is saying - “sono le otto e un quarto” (where quarto is in the masculine gender) correct?  But, is saying - “sono le otto e una quarta” (where quarta is in the feminine gender) wrong?

I am also wondering about the use of the words “mezzo” and “mezza” in time expressions.  

Can one say either “mezzo” (masculine gender) or “mezza” (feminine gender) when telling time?   For example, can you please tell me if both of the following are correct or not:  “sono le cinque e mezzo” (using mezzo in the masculine gender) and “sono le cinque e mezza)” (using mezza in the feminine gender).

Can you also please tell me if the use of “mezzo” or “mezza” is just the speaker’s choice?  Or, are there specific instances when one or the other must be used?

Thank you very much.

Very Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

it is true that “quarto” is always used in the masculine gender and that “quarto” is never used in the feminine gender when telling time.  

For example,  “Sono le otto e un quarto” (where "quarto" is in the masculine gender) is correct, whereas  “Sono le otto e una quarta” (where "quarta" is in the feminine gender) is absolutely wrong, simply because "quarto" when telling time is a masculine noun, not an adjective as in e.g. "La quarta parte spetta a me", "Giovanna era la quarta nella fila", etc.

As for the use of  “mezzo” and “mezza” in time expressions, one can say   either “mezzo” (masculine gender) or “mezza” (feminine gender) when telling time.
  
For example, both “Sono le cinque e mezzo” (using “mezzo” in the masculine gender as an adverb) and “Sono le cinque e mezza” (using “mezza” in the feminine gender as an adjective) are correct.

Lastly,  the use of “mezzo” as an invariable adverb  or  “mezza” as an adjective agreeing with the implied noun “ora” is just a speaker’s choice, without  specific instances when one or the other must be used.

Best regards,

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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