Mistakes to avoid when reading the 12-hour time system

Other / Thursday, October 7th, 2021

The day is divided into two periods of 12 hours each. The first period ends at noon and the second begins at that time and ends at midnight, marking the first period of the next day. For English speakers, the latter corresponds to ante meridiem (AM), before noon, and the second period corresponds to post meridiem (PM) after noon. But what are the mistakes to avoid when reading the AM and PM time system? You will find out more later.

The difference between AM and PM

The abbreviation AM or a.m. refers to all hours from midnight to 11:59 a.m., visit here for more information. It is used to specify the part of the day referred to when expressing time in the 12-hour system. Remember that a day consists of 24 hours. However, the period between noon and 11 p.m. inclusive corresponds to PM or p.m. In fact, English speakers use the 12-hour clock in preference to the 24-hour clock, which is generally reserved for certain uses such as train or plane schedules, military schedules, etc.

The confusion between noon and midnight

Although there is a difference between ante meridiem and post meridiem, some people cannot tell the difference because they confuse the two. French speakers are naturally used to the 24-hour system, whereas the 12-hour system is unique to English speakers. This sometimes leads Francophones and even some Anglophones into confusion when it comes to expressing or recognising midnight and noon. Explicitly, midnight is at the boundary between the "pm" and "am" periods, whereas noon is the transition between the "am" and "pm" periods. That is, midday is 12 am and midnight is 12 pm. So stop saying "twelve am" and "twelve pm" and say "midday" and "midnight" instead to avoid confusion. You can also say "twelve midnight" for "midnight" and "twelve noon /midday" for "noon" to give more precision.