If you enjoy watching movies or televisions shows that incorporate characters in the Armed Forces or military culture, you will notice that “military” time is often used.
Though it may seem technical to civilians, military time is simply based on a 24-hour clock rather than a 12-hour clock that repeats with am and pm.
This system of time eliminates any misunderstanding so that military personnel know clearly and precisely what time is indicated.
Here is an explanation of military time and an easy way to learn how to convert to it.
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Military Times (1300 – 2300 Hours)
It can be confusing at first for civilians to understand time based in 24-hour intervals rather than a total of twelve repeating am and pm hours.
Here is a breakdown of military time by the hour:
- 12:00 am = 0000 (usually spoken as “twenty-four hundred”)
- 1:00 am = 0100 (“oh-one-hundred”)
- 2:00 am = 0200 (“oh-two-hundred”)
- 3:00 am = 0300 (“oh-three-hundred”)
- 4:00 am = 0400 (“oh-four-hundred”)
- 5:00 am = 0500 (“oh-five-hundred”)
- 6:00 am = 0600 (“oh-six-hundred”)
- 7:00 am = 0700 (“oh-seven-hundred”)
- 8:00 am = 0800 (“oh-eight-hundred”)
- 9:00 am = 0900 (“oh-nine-hundred”)
- 10:00 am = 1000 (“ten-hundred”)
- 11:00 am = 1100 (“eleven-hundred”)
- 12:00 pm = 1200 (“twelve-hundred”)
- 1:00 pm = 1300 (“thirteen-hundred”)
- 2:00 pm = 1400 (“fourteen-hundred”)
- 3:00 pm = 1500 (“fifteen-hundred”)
- 4:00 pm = 1600 (“sixteen-hundred”)
- 5:00 pm = 1700 (“seventeen-hundred”)
- 6:00 pm = 1800 (“eighteen-hundred”)
- 7:00 pm = 1900 (“nineteen-hundred”)
- 8:00 pm = 2000 (“twenty-hundred”)
- 9:00 pm = 2100 (“twenty-one-hundred”)
- 10:00 pm = 2200 (“twenty-two-hundred”)
- 11:00 pm = 2300 (“twenty-three-hundred”)
And here’s the same military time conversion in chart format:
|Civilian Time||Military Time||Civilian Time||Military Time|
|12:00 am||0000 hours||12:00 pm||1200 hours|
|1:00 am||0100 hours||1:00 pm||1300 hours|
|2:00 am||0200 hours||2:00 pm||1400 hours|
|3:00 am||0300 hours||3:00 pm||1500 hours|
|4:00 am||0400 hours||4:00 pm||1600 hours|
|5:00 am||0500 hours||5:00 pm||1700 hours|
|6:00 am||0600 hours||6:00 pm||1800 hours|
|7:00 am||0700 hours||7:00 pm||1900 hours|
|8:00 am||0800 hours||8:00 pm||2000 hours|
|9:00 am||0900 hours||9:00 pm||2100 hours|
|10:00 am||1000 hours||10:00 pm||2200 hours|
|11:00 am||1100 hours||11:00 pm||2300 hours|
The word “hours” is often placed at the end of military time intervals when it is on the exact hour, as shown in the table above.
For example, you might hear someone in the military report that the scheduled meeting time is sixteen-hundred hours, which would be 4:00 pm.
Easy Way To Convert To Military Time
Of course, it’s much more practical to know an easy way to convert to military time rather than relying on a table as listed above.
The easiest way to convert is, for any interval after 12:00 pm, to take the unit number of the pm time (hours and minutes) and add 12:00 to it.
For example, to convert 3:00 pm to military time, you would take 3:00 (the unit number of the pm time) and add 12:00 to it, so it becomes 1500 (15-hundred hours).
If the time is 3:22 pm, you would still add 12:00 to 3:22, giving you 1522 (fifteen-twenty-two) hours.
In the case of any set time that is not rounded to the hour, the “hundred” is usually not indicated.
Here are more examples to illustrate the conversion:
- 5:50 am = 0550 (“five-fifty” or, less commonly, “oh-five-fifty)
- 9:11 am = 0911 (“nine-eleven”)
- 12:06 pm = 1206 (“twelve-oh-six”)
- 8:49 pm = 2049 (“twenty-forty-nine”)
- 11:30 pm = 2330 (“twenty-three-thirty”)
If you wanted to convert back from military time to civilian time, you would simply subtract 12:00 to arrive at the pm hour and minutes.
Therefore, if someone reports 1348 in military time, you can convert it to civilian time by subtracting 1200 from 1348, resulting in 1:48 pm.
Note that the colon between the hour and minutes is omitted in writing military time.
Why Does the Military Use Military Time?
The primary reason for using military time in the Armed Forces is to avoid any confusion that may arise with the am/pm time system.
With a system of time based on a 24-hour clock rather than twelve-hour intervals of am and pm, the hour numbers do not repeat.
Therefore, if someone says seven o’clock, the military knows exactly that this indicates 7:00 in the morning (am).
Among military members, seven o’clock in the evening (pm) would always be referred to as 1900 (nineteen-hundred hours).
It’s also used by other organizations in which precision and clarity are essential.
This includes entities such as:
- Government offices
- Public transportation
- Emergency services
- Certain civilian businesses
New recruits joining the military will be expected to use it, though it shouldn’t take much time to adjust to this system.
The military uses a 24-hour time format rather than two 12-hour formats separated by am and pm.
This is to avoid any confusion between the hours before and after noon.
Utilizing a 24-hour clock in the military allows for precision in terms of time so there is no question of when something is supposed to take place.
This precision is essential for all military missions and operations.
Converting to military time involves straightforward addition, which typically takes a short amount of time to master.
Understanding it is helpful even if you aren’t associated with the Armed Forces in that many countries around the world consider the 24-hour clock to be standard.
Therefore, if you are traveling or communicating with someone in a country that runs on “military” time, you will be familiar with their schedule.