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Suppose somebody says mi sono svegliato 10 minuti alle 7:00 or mi sono collegato 14 minuti alle 21:00, which preposition is implicit in those sentences?

For how I understand it, 10 minuti and 14 minuti means for how long the action last. So in the first case, I was sleeping before 7:00 AM, and I was still sleeping after 7:10 AM.

Could it be those sentences mean respectively, "I woke up at 10 to 7:00" and "I came online at 14 minutes to 9:00 PM"?

For how I understand them, the implicit preposition is per (for); in the other case would be a (at). Which is the case?

I am asking because it seems that some Italians don't understand those sentences the way I understand them; for those Italians, the implicit preposition would be a, and the sentences I used as example would be saying when the actions happened.

  • The two sentences can actually imply both meanings if a preposition is not used to avoid ambiguity. From my point of view, 10 minuti alle 7 suggests the meaning of 10 minutes to 7 while 14 minuti alle 21 may convey the meaning of for 14 minutes starting from 9 PM". – user519 Aug 1 '15 at 20:55
  • In my region it's understood: “vengo venti alle sette”, for instance. – egreg Aug 3 '15 at 10:15
  • @egreg That is without minuti, and I would understand it as "10 to seven" too. – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '15 at 14:44
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Suppose somebody says mi sono svegliato 10 minuti alle 7:00 or mi sono collegato 14 minuti alle 21:00, which preposition is implicit in those sentences?

The preposition you're talking about (either "a" or "per") is not meant to be implicit, it's plainly missing, making those sentences wrong:

Mi sono svegliato a 10 minuti alle 7:00
Mi sono collegato a 14 minuti alle 21:00
Mi sono svegliato per 10 minuti alle 7:00
Mi sono collegato per 14 minuti alle 21:00

For how I understand it, 10 minuti and 14 minuti means for how long the action last. So in the first case, I was sleeping before 7:00 AM, and I was still sleeping after 7:10 AM.

Could it be those sentences mean respectively, "I woke up at 10 to 7:00" and "I came online at 14 minutes to 9:00 PM"?

In this case, "a" would address a specific moment in time, while "per" would address a lapse of time;

For the above, depending on which preposition you're using they either mean the former (using "per") or the latter (using "a").

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    D'accordo su tutto, e in più personalmente anziché qualcosa come «Mi sono svegliato a 10 minuti alle 7:00» direi «Mi sono svegliato 10 minuti prima delle 7:00» o «Mi sono svegliato alle 6:50» (ho capito che la domanda era specificamente sulla preposizione da usare, ma trovo che la frase in questo senso zoppichi con o senza preposizione). – DaG Aug 2 '15 at 7:57
  • @DaG D'accordo sul fatto che "Mi sono svegliato a 10 minuti alle 7" suoni male, io addirittura avrei detto direttamente "Mi sono svegliato a 10 alle 7", qui da me si usa spessissimo. – kos Aug 2 '15 at 10:29
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Formally speaking, it's ambiguous and you should specify the preposition.

Informally speaking, and in a spoken context, the fact that you are specifying the word "minuti" would lead most native speaker to interpret your sentences as "per".

This is because, when you want to specify an hour of the day in the format "10 to 7", you would simply say "10 alle 7". No native speaker would ever say "10 minuti alle 7" in an informal/spoken context.

In other words, a native speaker would interpret "mi sono svegliato (per) 10 minuti alle 7:00" as "I was awaken for 10 minutes at 7.00", and "mi sono svegliato (a) 10 alle 7:00" as "I woke up at 10 to 7.00".

But let me stress this once more: this only holds in an informal/spoken context. If you want to be grammatically correct, you should specify your preposition.

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  • That is what I thought too, but two other Italians said the exact opposte of what I was supposing true. – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '15 at 14:45
  • @kiamlaluno That's odd. I'd suppose they were biased by the fact that you were the one asking and therefore tried to give you the answer that would fit a more formal/didactic context? – Diego Martinoia Aug 3 '15 at 14:50
  • Actually, a friend of mine said _ero online 10 minuti alle 8 and I asked what she meant; to my surprise, she meant she was online at ten minutes to 8 AM when she said . Then we asked to somebody else, and she said she would understand it as my friend said. :) – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '15 at 15:24
  • @kiamlaluno as I mentioned, it's a "tendency" in the interpretation, it's not an hard and fast rule :) – Diego Martinoia Aug 3 '15 at 15:53
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In Tuscany people would say "mi sono svegliato alle sette meno dieci" and "mi sono collegato un quarto alle nove" or better "alle nove meno un quarto" (14 minutes do not exist in the spoken language of my region). The first might just about be transformed into "10 alle sette", but the second, frankly, would sound like another language. If one must be really precise (whatever the reason) the second might become "esattamente quattordici minuti prima delle nove". And, by the way, the prepositions don't seem to be a problem.

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