§9.8. Approximate times, lengths of time

Clocks and watches vary considerably in how much detail they show, and we tend not to report the time over-precisely: half-past ten is an elastic concept. The following room description for the Clock Chamber comes across much more naturally:

The Clock Chamber is a room. "The dark chamber behind the clock face, a mill-room of gears which grind down the seconds. Through the glass you can see the reversed hands reading [the time of day to the nearest five minutes in words]."

The phrase "... to the nearest ..." rounds off the given time, just as it sounds; as we'll see later, it can actually round off any arithmetic values, not just times. For instance, "9:58 PM to the nearest ten minutes" is 10:00 PM.

In talking about lengths of time, rather than times of day, it's useful to have these:

(number) minutes ... time

This phrase converts numbers into lengths of time. Example:

15 minutes

Because it's a phrase, not just a notation for writing constants down, the number doesn't have to be given literally:

let X be 5;
if the player is in the Slow Room, now X is 10;
let deadline be the time of day plus X minutes;

Note that lengths of time can't exceed 1440 minutes.

(number) hours ... time

This phrase converts numbers into lengths of time. Example:

10 hours

Note that lengths of time can't exceed 24 hours.

 Start of Chapter 9: Time Back to §9.7. Telling the time Onward to §9.9. Comparing and shifting times