Learn to Easily Interpret Military Time

For at least half my life now I've favored military time, or the 24-hour clock, over the 12-hour clock which is much more common in the United States. When I was younger and learning how to convert the 24-hour clock into 12-hour time, I accidentally discovered an easy solution: Simply minus two from the hour, and then drop the first number.

For example, 18:30 (24-hour clock) = 18 - 2 = 16, drop the first number and we're left with 6. Therefore, 18:30 is 6:30 on a 12-hour clock! It gets slightly more tricky when the 24-hour clock gets to 22:00, because 22 - 2 = 20. But now you simply replace the leading 2 with a 1. Therefore, 22:00 = 10:00. Telling AM vs PM is easy: if the time is greater than or equal to 12, it's PM. Less than 12, it's AM.

Once you've used a 24-hour clock long enough, you won't need such methods of converting between the two types. For me, when I see the number 18 I now automatically see 6pm, and when I see the number 23 I automatically think 11pm. However, for those who are clueless when it comes to 24-hour clocks, this simple method of converting between the two might help. Of course, the only way you're really going to get used to reading military time is to change all your clocks (at least as many as you can) to use a 24-hour clock.

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  1. Oh my god. You are a genius. I’ve always hated converting. This is so much help because I set up a lot of trainings for customers and employees overseas and have to use the 24 hr set up.

    Thanks for this post!


      • I dont understand Telling AM vs PM is easy: if the time is greater than or equal to 12, it’s PM. Less than 12, it’s AM.

        • Oh, I think you are asking a question… To know if the time is AM or PM on a 24-hour clock, all you need to remember is that any hour after and including 12 is PM (so 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, 20:00 are all PM) and anything before 12 is AM (so 1:00, 3:00, 8:00, and 11:00 are all AM).

  2. Thanks Raam this helps me a lot. Everything I use is in the 24hour format so I was pretty much clueless half the time until I read this. XD

    Posting at 20:41 – 8:41 PM

  3. I think it is simpler to remember anything up to noon(1200) is the hour like you said and if it isn’t a double digit like 8 AM you put a zero in front of it like 0800 and 0817 would be 8:17 AM.
    Then after noon is when it gets tricky for most so lets say it is 1730….take 17 and subtract 12 you get 5 so 1730 = 5:30 PM
    I used that method until it became second nature to me. All the hours 1300, 1400, up to 2300 and 2400(midnight) work if you subtract 12 πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Sydney! Subtracting 12 after 12PM is definitely a good method.

      It’s interesting how our brain can be rewired to see 1730 as 5:30PM. Like you, I don’t even have to think about it. I just see 1730 and my brain “thinks” 5:30pm! πŸ™‚

    • i’d rather his method. what’s the point if u cant use it for all the hours?? i’d have to remember the hour that it works or and that’s too much work

  4. Hi Raam,

    while as a European I never had to bother with this, isn’t it even simpler if you just deduct by 12 if the hour is >12 ?!

    Example: it’s 13 o’clock. To convert the time simply subtract 12 from 13:
    13 – 12=1 pm

    if it’s 17:30: 17:30 – 12=5:30 pm

    if it’s 23:47: 23:47 – 12 = 11:47 pm

    (and if time is >12 then you know that it’s always pm)

    best regards!

    • Thanks! That’s another great method, but I found that subtracting two was easier than subtracting twelve! I’m horrible in math, so maybe that’s why. πŸ˜›

  5. I’m joining the military so now I can go into the recruiting office and act like I don’t know it and be like bladdda yaaa boy learn fast don’t I boys anyways thanks and love Google it brought us together lol night.

  6. i think i got it i did convert 1 from military time to 24 hour time then into regular time which was 2400 hours is 24 hours on a 24 hour clack then i converted it into 2.00

  7. Those who find it easier to subtract 12 area likely arithmetic-inclined folks who prefer thinking harder than is required. I fully agree that subtracting 2 and dropping the first digit is a considerably easier method.

    Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚ I’ve noted todays date and have switched my devices over to 24-hour time. I’ll report back once it’s become second nature for those curious as to how long a “conversion” truly takes.

    • For those who are curious, within 24-hours, it was very easy to very quickly do the conversions. Though I’m still not quite in a spot where I’m “thinking” in 24-hour time, I am in a spot (and have been for some time now) where the conversions happen instantly and I don’t have to think through them.

      There was no hard date in which I realized that I was all of a sudden able to instantly do the conversion, though I’d put it around 30-days of constant use.

      Thanks again πŸ™‚

  8. i always thought of it as you explained: subtracting 2 and taking away the first number! and whenever i would tell someone they would tell me to just substact 12, as someone up there said^ lol but this method was always helpful to me as well!(:

    • I hear you, Allison! This was definitely the easiest method for me to learn. Now that I’ve learned it, I don’t even need to subtract anything. 2300 automatically means 11pm to me. πŸ™‚

  9. Awesome method ! I just moved to a country where they use military time for everything, I was going crazy lol thanks for your help!

  10. Thanku! I’m slowly studying to be a nurse. .and i was finding 24/h time at times a little confusing. This helped so much

  11. Omg you helped me so much because I always have had trouble with Military Time.
    I am 14 going on 15 and plan to go to the military and after that become a law enforcement officer. Thank you for teaching me how to do this with a simple trick.
    Sent at 09:24 – 9:24
    I knew AM times cause I knew that the zero really didn’t mean a time so I didn’t pay attention to that but when someone one said “22:34 hours” I sat there and thought for a while then I knew when we were leaving.

    Thanks so Much,
    Nate Huffman

  12. BRO YOU ARE GREAT …! i’m working in a air ticketing field and all the flight times are shown in 24 hours formats and for it is very difficult to convert it into 12 hours. what im doing is always count like 13 for 14 for 2 15 for 3 etc etc it make lots of time and now it is very is very easy for thanks man


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