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12-hour or 24-hour clock?

Do we use the 12-hour or the 24-hour clock more?

The answer is the second.

This system is the most commonly used time notation in the world today. Popularly known as military time, astronomical time, railway time or continental time. It is also the international standard notation of time.

It is used in many areas like:
• Medicine - to record all documentation of events occurring during a patient’s hospitalization;
Timetables/schedules – to tell arrival and departure times in railway stations and airports
Astronomy/Space exploration – to record observation times and space launches
Armed forces – to refer to time in general in the army, navy and air force
Computer support - In most countries, computers by default show the time in 24-hour notation.

For example, Windows XP activates the 12-hour notation only if a computer's language and region settings are

- Albanian
- English (only in Australia, Belize, Canada, Caribbean, Jamaica, New Zealand, Philippines, Trinidad, South Africa, United States, and Zimbabwe)
- Greek
- Spanish (only in Mexico and parts of South America)
- Swahili

So how do we say it?

The 24 hour clock is similar to how we say the year in English:

1997 – nineteen ninety-seven
18:30 – eighteen thirty

With on the hour (____:00) times, we usually say:

18:00 – eighteen o’clock or eighteen hundred hours
24:00 – twenty-four o’clock or twenty-four hundred hours

Some more examples:
14:45 – fourteen forty-five
23:05 – twenty-three oh five

So the next time you ask for the time or someone asks for it, remember you can use either the 12-hour system or the 24-hour system.


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