The sentence:

Es lag etwas Verwirrendes im Ausdruck ihrer grünblauen Augen, wenn sie verliebt zu ihrem Freund aufblickte, der sie erst vor knapp einer halben Stunde unvermittelt gefragt hatte: ...

I can’t seem to make sense of “erst vor knapp”

  • 1
    It seems you also can't make sense of the shift keys on your keyboard. They can be used to type uppercase letters (which caused six orthographic errors in your German quote). I corrected this for you. Dec 3, 2017 at 7:13
  • From your recent posts, it seems you are reading C. C. Bergius' "Das Medallion"? Feel free to give the source of the text you are quoting.
    – Stephie
    Dec 3, 2017 at 9:59

2 Answers 2


The whole expression you should be looking at, is: "erst vor knapp einer halben Stunde"

This means, that he asked her nearly half an hour ago or just under half an hour ago, but not exactly thirty minutes ago.

A similiar expression you might be coming across is "vor gut einer halben Stunde", which means something happened slightly over half an hour ago.

  • Thanks, great explanation. Could you also explain the meaning of vor in this context? I kind of want to say it roughly translates to “previously ” in this particular context, does that sound right? Dec 3, 2017 at 6:43
  • In this case "vor" simply can be translated as "ago". Dec 3, 2017 at 6:52

Here, in this context:

  • erst = just
  • vor = ago
  • knapp = almost
  • einer = a(n)
  • halben = half
  • Stunde = hour

I don't know, if this is good English, but I would translate this phrase this way:

just almost half an hour ago

The whole quote:

There was something confusing in the expression of her green-blue eyes when she looked up in love to her boyfriend, who had asked her just almost half an hour ago: ...

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