What Is Military Time?

What Is Military Time?

Even if you don’t personally know anyone in the service, you’ve probably heard of military time, or maybe even heard someone tell time in that manner. If you aren’t familiar with how military time works, it can be a bit confusing, initially. It helps to have a bit of understanding of the procedure and the history behind its development.

What’s the Difference Between Military Time and Standard Time?

Standard Time

With standard time, the day is split into two twelve-hour parts, and each hour is represented by a number. The number is then followed by the designation of either a.m. or p.m. to indicate that it falls in either the time between midnight and noon (p.m.) or the time between noon and midnight (a.m.). Without the designation of a.m. or p.m., the indication of a time can be confusing on the standard format.

Military Time

With military time, there exists no a.m. or p.m. designation, and just one 24-hour period occurs each day, with each hour represented by its corresponding number. Therefore, in the period between midnight and 12:59, the hours and minutes of military time would be indicated in the same manner as standard time. But at 1:00 standard time, military time continues at 13:00. This carries on until 11:59 PM, or 23:59. Midnight may be represented as either 24:00 or 00:00 in military time.

For some nursing and other applications of military time, the colon may not be used—so, it would be 1200 instead of 12:00. Also, when military time is stated orally, the word hours is often used after the time, such as “It is 1300 hours.”

Military Time Chart

You’ll notice in the charts below that notation for the hours between 1:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (noon) in standard and military notation appear to be fairly similar. The differences between the two systems are much more apparent when writing the hours between 1:00 p.m. and midnight (12:00 a.m.).

\[\begin{array}{|c|c|c|c|} \hline \mathbf{Standard Time} & \mathbf{Military Time} & \mathbf{Standard Time} & \mathbf{Military Time} \\ \hline \text{1:00 a.m.} & \text{1:00 (or 100)} & \text{1:00 p.m.} & \text{13:00 (or 1300)} \\ \hline \text{2:00 a.m.} & \text{2:00 (or 200)} & \text{2:00 p.m.} & \text{14:00 (or 1400)} \\ \hline \text{3:00 a.m.} & \text{3:00 (or 300)} & \text{3:00 p.m.} & \text{15:00 (or 1500)} \\ \hline \text{4:00 a.m.} & \text{4:00 (or 400)} & \text{4:00 p.m.} & \text{16:00 (or 1600)} \\ \hline \text{5:00 a.m.} & \text{5:00 (or 500)} & \text{5:00 p.m.} & \text{17:00 (or 1700)} \\ \hline \text{6:00 a.m.} & \text{6:00 (or 600)} & \text{6:00 p.m.} & \text{18:00 (or 1800)} \\ \hline \text{7:00 a.m.} & \text{7:00 (or 700)} & \text{7:00 p.m.} & \text{19:00 (or 1900)} \\ \hline \text{8:00 a.m.} & \text{8:00 (or 800)} & \text{8:00 p.m.} & \text{20:00 (or 2000)} \\ \hline \text{9:00 a.m.} & \text{9:00 (or 900)} & \text{9:00 p.m.} & \text{21:00 (or 2100)} \\ \hline \text{10:00 a.m.} & \text{10:00 (or 1000)} & \text{10:00 p.m.} & \text{22:00 (or 2200)} \\ \hline \text{11:00 a.m.} & \text{11:00 (or 1100)} & \text{11:00 p.m.} & \text{23:00 (or 2300)} \\ \hline \text{12:00 p.m. (noon)} & \text{12:00 (or 1200)} & \text{12:00 a.m. (midnight)} & \text{24:00 (or 2400)} \\ \hline \end{array}\]

Why was Military Time Created?

Military time was developed out of the need for accuracy. Because standard time includes two moments in each day that are the same (i.e., there are two 1:30s every day), this was viewed as a weakness in using a 12-hour clock. A 24-hour time system does not provide for the same opportunities for confusion. In the present day, many professions that require a high degree of accuracy use military time, rather than standard.

How to Correctly Pronounce Military Time

There have been several changes to the military time system since its introduction. The way in which military time is spoken is also unique, in that it also uses the term hundreds when communicating time and all zeroes are acknowledged. For instance, 09:00 is referred to as “zero nine hundred hours” and 19:00 is “nineteen hundred hours.” This can be a bit confusing, since there are only 60 minutes in an hour, rather than 100, so you will never hear a correct military time of 19:85. After 19:59, the next number in the sequence is 20:00.

Military Time Conversion

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