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I've been translating NHK EasyNews and met this phrase

25日は、申し込みが始まる1時間前の午前8時半には、約30人が並んでいました

Although, I think I do understand the meaning of it

In one hour before 8:30 am, when the reservations started, ...

I don't get the here at all. Should it not be reversed? As in

何々が始まる午前8時半の一時間には

I've always though of it as genitive case in my mother tongue, so I feel pretty confused.

Thank you!

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Although, I think I do understand the meaning of it

In one hour before 8:30 am, when the reservations started

No, this sentence means "By 8:30 AM, which is an hour before the registration started, ...".

The actual registration starts at 9:30, which is written at the end of the article.

Here, の is used as the apposition marker.

  • 友達の田中さん my friend Tanaka
    (compare: 田中さんの友達 a friend of Tanaka)
  • 日本の首都の東京 Tokyo, the capital of Japan
    (The first の is like "of", the second の is for apposition)
  • 開始時間の21時に At the starting time, (which is) 21:00

As you said, 午前8時半の1時間前 would mean "An hour before 8:30 AM" (ie. 7:30 AM).

  • 英語の時制がおかしいかもしれないので間違っていたら直してください… – naruto Jun 28 '16 at 7:33
  • Thank you for an answer! I am not native speaker, but tenses seem fine. Thank you once again! – sadolit Jun 28 '16 at 9:21

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