Have you ever wondered how to tell the military time? Or even wondered what it is or why it exists? Well, you are on the right page! Military time, also referred to as the 24-hour clock, allows for precise timekeeping. Military time is based on the 24-hour clock and is a method of keeping time in which a day runs from midnight to midnight and is divided into 24-hour increments.
Military time is not only used in the military but also by astronomers, hospitals, and emergency services. Using military time comes in handy when a timing mistake could be dire and also eliminates the possibility of mixing up 5 A.M. and 5 P.M. when working across different time zones.
12-Hour and 24-Hour System
The 12-hour clock system, which divides the day into two-cycle, is widely used in countries where English is the main language; however, other countries have also embraced it too. The 12-hour clock has two equal periods of 12 hours, from midnight, which is denoted as 12:00 A.M. (Ante meridiem) to midday, denoted as 12:00 P.M. (post meridiem), then from midday back to midnight, which completed a full 24-hour cycle.
The numbering in a 12-hour clock runs from one to twelve in each period, with twelve representing zero as the start point.
The 24-hour clock system, on the other hand, originated from ancient Egypt and has been used for many centuries and is still being used today. The 24-hour clock, commonly referred to as the military time conversion, runs the day from midnight to midnight for a total period of 24 hours continuously.
The 24-hour time counting system has the start of a day at midnight, which is denoted as 00:00 and runs all the way through to 23:59.
Unlike the 12-hour clock, most people consider the 24-hour clock to be specific to timelines and is much easier to read and interpret.
How is the Military Time Written?
Just like the 12-hour clock system, the military time is also displayed in four digits. However, unlike the 12-hour clock system, the military time does not use a colon (:) to separate the hours and the minutes; rather, they are written together. The first two digits in the military time format tell you the hour, and the other two tell you the minutes. For instance, 11:00 A.M., in military format, will be 1100 and will be read as eleven hundred or eleven hundred hours.
The major difference between the military time and the 12-hour System comes in the afternoon hours. Using the 12-hour clock format, the hour after midday would be written as 1:00 P.M. On the other hand, for military time, we would have to continue the count from twelve to thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and so on. So, for 1:00 P.M., the military time reading would be 1300.
Here is a chart comparison of the hours throughout the day:
|12- hour format||Military Time|
Download Free Military Time Charts
We understand that getting it right can not always be easy, especially if you are used to reading the 12-hour time format. With a military chart, it will be much easier for you to tell the difference. With practice, you will, with time, be able to read it just like the 12-hour time. Download and use our free military chart templates for your convenience.
Steps to Understand Military Time (How to Tell)
Step 1: Understand the military clock
The military time starts at midnight, which is denoted as 0000 hours- read as zero hundred hours. Like the 12-hour clock, the military time is displayed in four digits- with the first two digits represent the hour while the last two represent the minutes.
Compared to the 12-hour clock system, which resets twice, dividing a day into two 12-hour cycles, the military time starts at midnight 0000 hours and runs all the way through to 2359 hours and resets at 0000 hours at midnight again.
Step 2: Midnight until noon hours in military time
This is perhaps the easiest part of learning how to tell the military time – you simply have to ensure that the time has four digits. To do that, add zero before the hour, and remove the colon (:) for single-digit hours. When you reach the two-digit hours, simply remove the colon.
For instance, to convert 7:00 A.M. into military time, you simply add a zero before seven and remove the colon, i.e., 0700 hours.
Step 3: Midnight until noon hours in military time
This is where there is a huge difference between the 12-hour clock system and the military time. Using the 12-hour clock format, the hour after midday would be written as 1:00 P.M. For the military time, we would have to continue the count from twelve to thirteen, and 1:00 P.M. would be written as 1300 hours.
Step 4: Noon until midnight hours in military time
To convert noon hours to military time, you simply add the number of hours passed since noon.
For instance, to convert 10:00 P.M. to military time, you simply add 11 hours, which have passed since 12-noon to get 2200 hours.
Step 5: Reading hours in military time
Reading whole hours without any minutes is easy. If it is a single-digit hour with zero as the first digit, you will have to read each digit separately.
For instance, reading 0300 hours will be zero, three hundred hours. 0900 hours will be read as zero nine hundred hours etc.
Step 6: Reading hours with minutes in military time
To read hours with minutes in the military time, simply state the four-digit number as two pairs of numbers with tens and one’s digit.
For example, 1755 becomes “Seventeen Fifty-Five Hours” 0130 hours will be “Zero One Thirty Hours.”
Step 7: “Zulu” in military time
Zulu is often used in the military and aviation as another name for Universal Coordinated Time- UTC. The Zulu Time Zone is also popularly used at sea between 7.0 degrees west and 7.5 degrees east.
Letter “Z” is normally used as a suffix when telling the time to denote a time being in the UTC, such as 09:00Z or 0900Z, which is read out as “Zero Nine Hundred Zulu.
Converting Military Time to Standard Time and Vice Versa
Converting standard time to military time
To convert standard time to military time, if the standard time is in the a.m., i.e., before 12 noon, simply remover the “am” consequently is the hour is a single digit, for example, 9, add a zero (0) before 9 to become 09. This is because the military time is a four-digit system, i.e., two digits for “hours” and two for the “minutes.” For instance, 9:00 A.M. becomes 0900 hours.
However, if the 12-hour time is in the pm, you will add 12 hours and remove the “pm.” For instance, to convert 3:40 P.M., we will add 12 hours to the hour section (3+12=15), and we get the military time of 1540 hours.
Military time to standard time
When converting the military time to standard time, what you need to know is that anything between 1201 hours and 2359 hours is basically in the “PM,” and anything between 0001 hours and 1159 hours is in the “AM” time.
A simple way to convert the military time to standard time is to subtract 12. If the military time says 2300 hours, if you want to convert it to standard time, you simply subtract 12 from 23, and you get 11, which converts to 11:00 P.M.
Why do We Use Military Time?
The military time format is used as it helps avoid confusion between the AM and the PM. We’ve all been in situations where we unintentionally set our alarm for 6:00 P.M. instead of 6:00 A.M. only to be late for school, work, or an important event. With the 24-hour time, there is no confusion as the numbers never repeat themselves. For instance, 0600 hours can only mean 6:00 A.M. because the military time does not have 6:00 P.M.
The main advantage of using military time is that the aspect of confusion is eliminated, and this is why most public transits, doctors, and the armed forces use the military time. Since the numbers are not repeating themselves like in the 12-hour System, one cannot be confused if they fail to mention p.m. or a.m. when reading the time.
Practicing the military time is easy. Simply convert your phone’s time into the 24-hour format and download a chart to help you tell the time. With practice, you will, with time, be able to tell it much easier.
A simple way to tell the military time is to subtract 12. If the military time says 2300 hours, simply subtract 12 from 23, and you get 11, which converts to 11:00 P.M.
Hopefully, all the questions you may have had on telling military time have been answered by now, and now you know the difference between the 12-hour time and the military time. Although telling the military time may not be easy, especially for the afternoon hours, with practice, you will see that it is not hard at all. Remember to download and use our military time charts to help you out.