What is military time (overview)

Table of Contents

Military time is a distinct to the point method of telling time used mostly by the military. Other entities that put to use this system of time are hospitals and emergency services like paramedics, firefighting and law enforcement. This article provides a comprehensive description of military time; how it is written, the common differences when compared to regular time and numerous conversion examples.


History of the 24-hour clock

The origin of the 24-hour clock dates back to the ancient Egyptian Culture. Prior to this time, quite a number of timekeeping systems were in use. However, these other methods were used in the rest of the world for only an appreciable amount of time after the conclusion of the old Egyptian civilization. Still, the Egyptians were the only ones who came up with the 24-hour time. Their system of telling time developed around the time it took specific constellations to cross through the sky, ultimately giving rise to 360 days a year.

From the start of those former days, Egyptians used a method of tracking time called temporal hours. During different seasons, temporal hours would reflect the varying amounts of daylight present. Their method was widely used and precise.

The system was reliable for the Egyptians because it accounted for seasonal changes and events that happened over long periods. The only downside of this system was its importance was limited to only checking celestial events that happen every day.


For some time between 143 and 128 BCE, Hipparchus, a popular astronomer, came up with the idea of equinoctial hours. Such hours had equal length or duration despite the season. 60 minutes, which was the length of an hour was established during the equinox. At that time, the duration of night and day is equal. It was noticed that even after the astronomer invented the equinoctial hour, the common people still used temporal hours in their day-to-day lives. However, the approach of the equinoctial hour was vital for the improvement of astronomy elsewhere.

Many countries observe the 12-hour timekeeping system. The 12-hour clock counts from 0 to 12 two times a day. It will count from 0 to 12 beginning at midnight, and afterward from 0 to 12 at midday. In countries and places where the 12-hour clock is popular, most professions opt for the 24-hour clock since it lowers the chances of confusion brought about by the 12-hour system where two iterations of every numbered hour occur in a day. Great Britain, English-speaking Canada and the United States of America all benefit from the 12-hour time system.

Military time chart

Have you ever thought about reading the military time easily and quickly or wondered what it is all about or even why it exists?

It is a method of recording hours in which a day goes from midnight to midnight and is split into 24-hour increments.

It is the leading interval notation used worldwide. The military time chart is a suitable time converter since it gives side-by-side 12 hour clock times with their corresponding 24-hour clock times. The chart is well known as a military time conversion Chart.

Military TimeStandard TimeMilitary TimeStandard Time
01001 AM13001 PM
02002 AM14002 PM
03003 AM 15003 PM
04004 AM 16004 PM
05005 AM17005 PM
06006 AM 18006 PM
07007 AM 19007 PM
08008 AM20008 PM
09009 AM21009 PM
100010 AM220010 PM
110011 AM 230011 PM

Regular Time vs Military Time

An outstanding difference between military and regular time is the manner in which hours are shown. The regular time will use numbers 1 to 12 to describe each of the 24 hours in a day.

On the contrary, military time uses 00 to 23 to determine the hours. With the military system, midnight is 00, 6 A.M is 06, 6 P.M is 18, and so forth.
Both time systems express minutes and seconds in the exact same way.

During the conversion of the military to regular and vice versa, minutes and seconds remain the same. To identify the time of day plainly, regular time needs to use A.M and P.M. but the two are not necessary for the military system since it is enough to use a particular two-digit number to describe each of the 24 hours.

Military time minutes

As mentioned earlier, military and regular time use minutes in the exact same way. In addition, they use the same number of minutes every hour. There is no need for conversion of minutes when changing the time systems because military minutes do not exist.

Sometimes, people come across time written in a different format, which looks like minutes greater than 59 for instance, 8.82 or 8:82. The time indicated in this manner is simply written in decimal hours; hours and hundredths of hours and not military time. The way of converting decimal hours to hours and equivalent minutes is very different from converting between military and regular time.

A frequent question that pops up is whether midnight is written as 0000 or 2400. Both ways can refer to midnight especially by emergency service personnel and the military. Nevertheless, clocks, which display time in a 24-hour format and digital watches and computer equipment, refer to midnight as the beginning of a new day and show it as 0000.

How to write Military Time?

Different types of organizations and various professions write military time separately. Almost all emergency services, the military, and hospitals normally record military time as hours and minutes missing a colon and with the words ‘hours’ written afterward.

The format is hours: minutes for instance 1440 or 1531 hours. As they express time down to the second, a colon appears between the minutes and seconds just like the following format hours: minutes: seconds like 1440:52. In the field of engineering and science, colons are present between hours, minutes and seconds. That is why their formats in expressing time appear are hours: minutes 15:31 and hours: minutes: seconds 15:31:52.

Advantages of military time format

The primary benefit of this time format is it does not bring in vagueness particularly when it is connected to a time zone designation. It is easy to say 10 P.M or 10 A.M but in an urgent or stressful situation, the figures can be easily confused.

Greenwich Mean Time or‘Zulu’ time is also a better alternative because it is more precise and removes ambiguity. It is standard time with no daylight savings meaning time will always be the same regardless of which part you are in the world.

For example, 2200Z indicates the time worldwide whether they practice daylight savings time. Currently, there are numerous clocks that have Zulu time, local time and some other time zones.

Majority of the countries in the world also incorporate the 24-hour time system just like the military. To be familiar with this system requires no effort all; there is no use of A.M and P.M.

-Another advantage of using this time format is the fact that there cannot be any misunderstandings. The reason being, for every hour during the day, you will have a different time.

For example, 7 AM and 7 PM is 0700 and 1900 hours in MT format.

When a person wants to be somewhere in a week’s time at 6 or 8 o’clock, one might wonder if you are referring to A.M or P.M. a case like that will never happen with the use of military time ; you will never be mistaken for. 6 o’clock in the morning is 0600 while 6 o’clock in the evening will be 1800.

Main sources of Military Time

Two primary sources of this time format are 24-hour clocks and digital wristwatches. Almost all digital watches give out the option of showing time in either military or regular format.

Pressing a certain button labeled “12/24” or something of the sort allows for switching back and forth between the two formats. Many firms design 24-hour clocks.

MFJ enterprises are an example of a company that does so. They are a radio equipment manufacturer based in Mississippi and they provide a wide array of priced 24-hour clocks.

What differences exist between Military and 24 Hour Time?

Military and 24-hour time are very similar. Only two differences exist between the two formats settings. With military time, there is always a leading zero and there is no colon while for 24-hour time, a colon is present but no leading zero.

For instance, 7 o’clock AM is shown as 7:00 in 24-hour time and 0700 in military time. 7 PM will be 1900 in military time and 19:00 in 24-hour time.
With knowledge about these differences, it will be easier to determine which time format is more useful in specific situations.