Easiest Way to Read Military Time

Easiest Way to Read Military Time

You may be familiar with regular time. But, are you aware about military time? Do you know how to read military time? If you know someone from the military, you might have heard them saying 1600 hrs, 1400 hrs, 1700 hrs, etc. What if they call you and say arrive at this place sharp 1600 hrs today? You will be scratching your head and be like, “Oh wait, 16 what?” 

So, here is how you can read military time and arrive precisely at 1600 hrs today.

What is military time?

As its name suggests, military time is a standard time used by military personnel. 

We always use the 12 hrs clock format, but military personnel use the 24 hrs clock format. Instead of saying 1 PM, they say 1300 hrs (thirteen hundred hours), eliminating PM and AM. 

Difference between military time and regular time

It all comes down to understanding the hours. We are all familiar with a regular time that uses 12 hrs format. It is divided into two 12 hrs formats, basically 1 to 12, whereas military time uses 24 hrs format. 

We use AM and PM to distinguish between day and night. Military personnel indicate day and night by how they say time. For example, 1300 means 1 PM, and 0000 means 12 AM. For them, 0001 to 1159 is AM, and 0000 or 1201 to 23:59 is PM. 

If it is 1:15 PM, then military personnel say it is 13: 15. Too confusing, right? Don’t worry; later, we will show you how to read the military time easily. 

For now, just remember that the only difference between them is how you write and say hours. You don’t need to convert the minutes and seconds into military time or vice versa. They are exactly the same as regular time. How you write minutes and seconds remains the same. However, how you say them differs.

Here is a time chart showing the military time and regular time to make it easier for you to understand it better. 

Regular TimeMilitary TimeRegular TimeMilitary Time
1:00 AM01001:00 PM1300
2:00 AM02002:00 PM1400
3:00 AM03003:00 PM1500
4:00 AM04004:00 PM1600
5:00 AM05005:00 PM1700
6:00 AM06006:00 PM1800
7:00 AM07007:00 PM1900
8:00 AM08008:00 PM2000
9:00 AM09009:00 PM2100
10:00 AM100010:00 PM2200
11:00 AM110011:00 PM2300
12:00 PM120012:00 AM2400

You might be wondering, why do you need to know the military time? For military personnel, it is essential to understand military time. If you aim to be a part of an armed force, you need to know the basics of military time. Besides military, aviation, navigation, astronomy, meteorology, logistics, etc., uses military time as well. If you target such career options in the future, try to understand the military time beforehand. You never know; you might get fired for a simple matter. Just kidding.

Some countries even use military time instead of regular time. It is common for them. However, for a beginner, it isn’t straightforward. One needs to understand the time format and hours. 

How to read military time?

Understanding military time is simple if you know how hours and minutes are written, read, and said. With the above military time chart, you might already know how to write it, and probably you could say it as well, but partially. 

The first two digits indicate hours, and the remaining two tell minutes. It is easy to say 1100 as “Eleven Hundred”, 1200 as “Twelve Hundred”, 22 as “Twenty Two Hundred”. But, how do you say the time that has its initial 0? You say it as 0 and nothing else. For example, if it is 0100, you say it as “Zero One Hundred”. It is so simple. But what about 0000? You say it as “Zero Hundred Hours.” or even more straightforward, zero zero zero zero hours.

Note: You can say hours, but it is optional. You can say only Zero Four hundred.

It is easy to say if it is only hours. However, when it comes to minutes, it becomes a bit confusing. If you want to say 1315, then how do you say it? You say it as thirteen fifteen hours. You need to divide the first two digits as a pair and the remaining as another pair. 

It gets even more complicated when the first two digits are zero. It becomes difficult to pair the hours and minutes. So, if it is 0002, then you say it as zero zero zero two hours. If it is 0145, you say it is zero one forty-five. 

If it is still difficult for you to understand, you can say one number at a time. For 0145, say zero one four-five hours. 

Reading military time is complicated, but it becomes easy to read, say, and write once you get the hang of it. To make it more simple for you, here are a few tricks to understand it better. 

  • Subtract 12

Instead of remembering the whole time chart, you can subtract 12 from the 24 hours format. You need to subtract the first two digits with 12. If someone says 2000 hours, then subtract 20 with 12. You get the 8 PM. It would help if you remembered that 1300 to 2300 indicates PM. 

It only works for 1300 to 2400, i.e., for PM hours; you need to go back to remembering the whole time chart for the rest. It also works for 2400, i.e., 24-12= 12 AM. You need to remember that it is AM, not PM.

  • Add 12

Another trick is to add 12 to 1 to 12 hours format. This trick also works for the PM hours. If it is 1 PM, then adding 12 to 1 gives you 13. 

These tricks will help you to convert regular time to military time, but not entirely. These tricks don’t work for AM hours. Still, you don’t need to remember the whole time chart, so half of your work is done. 

Furthermore, you are familiar with hours and minutes, but there are seconds also. Seconds also matter, but not so much for ordinary people. Still, it is crucial for military personnel. But, we don’t need to learn about seconds; hours and minutes are enough for us. 

Until and unless you join a military force, the military time might not be useful for everyday people. If you are curious, then there is no harm in learning to read the military time. Who knows, you might have a military time quiz at your school, and you might be the star of the quiz show. 

Hope this article helped you understand the military time and next time your friend asks you to meet at 1600 hours, you know precisely when that is.

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