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How to Calculate Military Time

By Edited Aug 15, 2016 3 5

While it is expressly called "military time", the truth is that "military time" has far ranging applications beyond just the military. In fact, military time, or 24 hour time, has been adopted by many professions that have realized the greater effectiveness and efficiency that a 24 hour time has to offer. Where clarity may be lacking with standard 12-hour time, 24 hour military time inherently removes the uncertainty over what exact time one is actually speaking about.

Typically, it is those professions where 'customers' or duties have 24/7 needs and demands that are prime candidates for the use of 24 hour military time. If you fill any capacity in a profession, such as nursing, you can benefit greatly from learning just how to calculate military time.

Things You Will Need

a Watch
a Pen

Casio Men's MQ24-9B Classic Analog Watch
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(price as of Aug 15, 2016)

Step 1

In order to aid in greater efficiency and clarity, a major resonating difference between 24 hour military time and 12 hour standard time is the use of the "AM" and "PM" designators. While in 12 hour standard time you will find these additional designators, this is not the case with 24 hour military time. Relying on these designators, unfortunately, can lend to confusion and uncertainty, especially if they are left off while discussing matters of high priority. In a military, where specific skills and movements require highly accurate time applications, you can imagine just how much confusion could be added if an attack was to be initiated at 8:30, but the commander did not specify whether or not it would occur at 8:30 AM or PM? This issue with clarity could have far reaching effects in unnecessary soldiers lost because of a simple missunderstsanding.

When learning to calculate military time, it is absolutely imperative that you remember that the "AM" and "PM" time designators do not apply simply because they are not needed. The time, itself, will give you all the information you need in order to distinguish morning hours from night time hours.

Step 2

From 12:00 AM (morning hours) to 12:00 PM standard time, all these hours will relate specifically to the hours on a 12 hour watch or clock when converting to 24 hour military time. For example, 1:00 AM in a standard 12 hour format, will convert directly to 0100 hours in 24 hour military time.

The following list demonstrates the exact 12 hour standard time to 24 hour military time conversion for all the morning hours. be sure to recognize that 0:00 hours is the equivalent to 12:00 AM (midnight). As you can see clearly, all the morning hours require very little "brain work" in converting accurately into 24 hour time.
  • 01:00 hours = 1:00 AM
  • 02:00 hours = 2:00 AM
  • 03:00 hours = 3:00 AM
  • 04:00 hours = 4:00 AM
  • 05:00 hours = 5:00 AM
  • 06:00 hours = 6:00 AM
  • 07:00 hours = 7:00 AM
  • 08:00 hours = 8:00 AM
  • 09:00 hours = 9:00 AM
  • 10:00 hours = 10:00 AM
  • 11:00 hours = 11:00 AM
  • 12:00 hours = 12:00 AM
Kincaid Wall Clock with Military Time
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Step 3

Because 12 hour time just simply begins all over again after 12:00 noon, this is exactly where 24 hour military begins to diverge from 12 hour standard time. Instead of reverting to PM hours (1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, etc), as in the case of 12 hour standard time, 24 hour military time continues to escalate in an unhindered flow to 2400 hours.

The following list shows just how the 12 hour standard time conversion translates in 24 hour military time:
  • 13:00 hours = 1:00 PM
  • 14:00 hours = 2:00 PM
  • 15:00 hours = 3:00 PM
  • 16:00 hours = 4:00 PM
  • 17:00 hours = 5:00 PM
  • 18:00 hours = 6:00 PM
  • 19:00 hours = 7:00 PM
  • 20:00 hours = 8:00 PM
  • 21:00 hours = 9:00 PM
  • 22:00 hours = 10:00 PM
  • 23:00 hours = 11:00 PM
  • 24:00 hours = 12:00 PM

Step 4

As you can see from the previous list, the mathematical conversion from 12 hour standard time to 24 hour military requires nothing short of simple addition. Essentially, your conversion formula with be "hours PM (12 hour time) + 12 hours".

For example, if it were 8:00 PM (12 hour standard time), you would simply add 12 hours to the time, and your sum would be 20:00 hours military time.

Likewise, your 24 hour military time can easily be converted to 12 hour standard time just by simply subtracting 12 hours. For example, if your 24 hour military time was 18:00 hours, you would subtract 12 hours and your remaining product would 6:00 PM. As you can see, whether you convert military time to standard time, or vice versa, it is really a seamless process.

Learning to read and convert military time can be extremely beneficial to you, dependent upon your profession. If you are a soldier or a nurse, 24 hour military time is essentially embedded firmly into the core fabric of those professions, and for good reason. Even still, even if you are not in those particular professions, learning how to read and convert 24 hour military time can help you to better understand just exactly what it is that others are speaking about. Oftentimes, these times are used in television shows that involve professions such as the medical profession or soldiering.

Tips & Warnings

While it is really quite easy to convert from 24 hour military time to 12 hour standard time, or from 12 hour standard time to 24 hour military time, many people simply get confused when attempting to do this quick math in their head while pre-occupied with other tasks. If necessary, it can be very helpful to simply print out this InfoBarrel article (or at least the conversion charts listed in steps #2 and #3 so that you can have quick and easy reference to them when you need them.

Because there is no "AM" or "PM" time designator addition associated with 24 hour military time, it is still important to actually say the word "hours" because doing this is simply proper protocol. For example, in 24 hour military time, the time 08:00 hours would be read "Zero Eight Hundred Hours".

Also, be sure not to confuse 0:00 hours with 12:00 Noon in 12 hour standard time. Oftentimes, this can be the subject of great confusion. Zero hundred hours is, in fact, 12:00 AM and should be treated as such.

Many digital watches also include a setting option that allows to swiftly and seamless convert your 12 hour standard time to 24 hour military time on the fly. This is actually a really quite common place feature, and these digital watches can be found just about anywhere from Walmart to Target and beyond. Generally speaking, even the cheapest digital watches on the market will allow you to quickly change over to 24 military time if you would like to. In the event that you don't know how, or don't want to, convert to 24 hour military time in your head, having a digital watch with this functionality can be a great benefit to you when you need it the most.

Prestige Medical Nurse White Scrub Watch
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(price as of Aug 15, 2016)


Dec 23, 2010 11:01pm
I understood military time but this is the best explanation of it I've ever seen.
Dec 23, 2010 11:13pm
In Argentina it is not "military time" nor time used by certain professions. It is just the way time is used here. It is nice in that it removes confusion.
Jan 3, 2011 2:36pm
What a comprehensive article!
Jan 3, 2011 7:40pm
I never thought of just adding 12 to the pm numbers.....way to explain it!
Jan 31, 2011 12:42pm
very nice article. Please advice me how I can improve my blog. I visited yours looks very nice.
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