24 hour clock

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  • Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    Context is everything. Is the person speaking of a military background, talking about a planned operation or something like that?

    Personally I wouldn't ever say "at nineteen hours", I'd say "at seven o'clock this evening", or not even mention the time of day if it's obvious, just "at seven pm" or "at seven".
     

    amateur.jf

    Member
    English - S.Ontario, Canada
    In the military, they would say "nineteen hundred hours".

    Outside of a military context, I think we (at least where I'm from) simply do not say the time this way, using hours beyond 12; if printed this way, we would convert it to "7 pm" when speaking aloud.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "At nineteen hundred hours," though people seldom give time this way outside the military. And it is written without a space: "1900."

    If you want more than an answer to this specific question, there are several existing threads that go into the topic of writing and saying time in more detail.

    Cross-posted.
     

    amateur.jf

    Member
    English - S.Ontario, Canada
    If for some reason it were absolutely necessary to state the time in the 24-hour-clock way (like, say you're telling someone else what to print, and they have to use it), I suppose saying "nineteen hundred" would be the way to do it (assuming you both already know you are talking about time).
    22:30 you'd say "twenty-two thirty", etc.

    But again, this is in general completely unnatural.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    I agree with the others nineteen hundred (hours). I worked in a non-military international environment and we used the 24 h clock, we said 1900hs gmt +or - 5. As you can see we had to be precise with varying time zones.
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's not completely unnatural, but it's not the normal way to state time. It can be useful to resolve ambiguity.

    It can be used jokingly too, to organise something. "We meet at nineteen hundred hours at the King's Head. We must be at the Green man by twenty hundred hours."
     

    amateur.jf

    Member
    English - S.Ontario, Canada
    For what it's worth in the discussion, I think in English-speaking North America (in Quebec it's different), we encounter the 24-hour clock less frequently than you do in Europe. Train travel for instance is much less widespread here, and train timetables or bus schedules don't even necessarily use that notation in all cases.
    Therefore, aside from an international work context like the poster above described, it does indeed feel rather "unnatural" to use it conversationally here, EVEN to resolve ambiguity (we simply use AM or PM for that).

    It could still be used jokingly here, to put on a mock military tone, but even then I think we'd tend to do that more for morning hours (in the sense that you have to be up and ready early in the morning in the army) than for evening ones.

    And by the way, in this context, 9:00 in the morning, 0900, would be pronounced "oh nine hundred hours".. but I'm not sure whether the insertion of "oh" is insisted on as part of the "joking" usage.
     
    Last edited:

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    21:43

    twenty-four forty-three hours
    twenty-four forty-three


    Are both correct?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    21:43

    twenty-four forty-three hours
    twenty-four forty-three


    Are both correct?
    In BE, where the use of the 24-hour clock has for many years now been standard in bus and train timetables and the like, 21:43 would be read as "twenty-one forty-three". :)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    21:43

    twenty-one forty-three hours
    twenty-one forty-three


    Now both are fine. Right? Is using the word "hours" optional?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    21:43

    twenty-one forty-three hours
    twenty-one forty-three


    Now both are fine. Right? Is using the word "hours" optional?
    Not in BE, no. We only use "... hours" when there are no minutes involved, as in 21:00. Otherwise it's as I said in post #16. ;)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    21:40
    twenty-one forty hours

    Is it OK if I omit "hours" here? I think it's optional here.

    Am I right?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Either way is acceptable, right?
    Wrong.

    Adding"hours" might be correct in a military context, but not in ordinary British English. 21:43 is only read as "twenty-one forty-three", unless the speaker changes it to twelve-hour notation. I cannot speak for AmE usage, but it seems they don't use the 24-hour clock at all.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If 'hours' is acceptable here, it would only be in military contexts. Unless you are in one of the English speaking armed forces, don't add 'hours'. If you join one of these forces, you'll pretty quickly learn their way of telling the time.

    Cross-posted at 08:46 GMT.
     
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