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How to Read Military Time

A watch displaying military time.
A watch displaying military time.

The following examples will help you to read military time vs. *12 hour time (both AM and PM hours translated to military time). Both military and 12 hour systems use minutes and seconds in the same way. So basically all you need to focus on are the hour differences and some nuances in speech. The more tricky military hours are those in the afternoon and evening that equate to the 12 hour system's PM hours.

* Note: the common 12 hour system is sometimes referred to by military personnel as civilian time.

What's the first rule of military time?


Answer: The day always starts at 0001 and counts up to 2400. Technically, you could say it ends at 0000. Both ways are correct because they both signify the end of a 24 hour period.

What's the second rule of military time?


Answer: Drop the AM and PM.

Military time is always expressed in hours like 0200 hours and pronounced as "zero two-hundred hours" or "zero two zero zero hours." That would be 2:00 AM on a civilian clock. Below is a common format used by the military showing how hours, minutes, and seconds are separated.

common format used by the military showing how hours, minutes, and seconds are separated

The numbers above represent 1:15 PM with 5 seconds in the common 12 hour system. For military time, a colon (:) is sometimes added after the hours. So it would also be correct if it was written like 13:15:05 hours.


How to Read Military Time vs. Civilian AM Hours


The inner circle of the clock below represents 12 hour / civilian time with A.M. The outer circle represents the military time translation.

How to Read Military Time vs. Civilian AM Hours

The outer circle of this clock (above) with the military time starts at 0001 and ends at 1200 hours (twelve-hundred hours). Beyond 1200 hours, you would use the PM clock below like 1201, 1202, 1203, ...1300, 1400, etc. up to 2400 hours.

How to Read Military Time vs. 12 Hour PM Hours


The inner circle of the clock below represents 12 hour / regular time with P.M. The outer circle represents the military time translation.

How to Read Military Time vs. Civilian PM Hours

The outer circle of this clock (above) with the military time starts at 1201 and ends at 2400 hours for the 12 hour system equivalent of afternoon and evening PM hours.

Table of 12 Hour "Civilian Time" Translated to Military Time


Civilian / 12 Hour System Military Time Translation
12:01 AM (One minute past midnight) 0001 hours
1:00 AM 0100 hours
2:00 AM 0200 hours
3:00 AM 0300 hours
4:00 AM 0400 hours
5:00 AM 0500 hours
6:00 AM 0600 hours
7:00 AM 0700 hours
8:00 AM 0800 hours
9:00 AM 0900 hours
10:00 AM 1000 hours
11:00 AM 1100 hours
12:00 AM (Noon) 1200 hours
1:00 PM 1300 hours
2:00 PM 1400 hours
3:00 PM 1500 hours
4:00 PM 1600 hours
5:00 PM 1700 hours
6:00 PM 1800 hours
7:00 PM 1900 hours
8:00 PM 2000 hours
9:00 PM 2100 hours
10:00 PM 2200 hours
11:00 PM 2300 hours
11:59 PM 2359 hours
12:00 Midnight 0000 hours

Related:

Table of Phonetic Alphabet Letters | Army Officer Rank | Using Military Map Symbols