Do any English-speaking nation-states use 24-hour time?

And if so, how do they pronounce it?

I want to know how I’m supposed to say the time 18:00 in English. I know in French it’s “dix-huit heures” (eighteen hours), but of course that doesn’t translate directly into English. And “eighteen o’clock” is probably wrong too. I understand that in military parlance it’s “eighteen-hundred hours”, but do civilians say that?


From what I can make out every country seems to use the 24 hour clock for certain things such as airline timetables, shipping weather forecasts etc. However I think that few people actually use the 24 hour clock when speaking and it is mainly only used in the written form when there is no accompanying conversation that points towards whether a person is speaking about morning or evening etc.
On the subject of time you might be interested to learn that here in Ireland and also in Britain we refer to ‘quarter past’, ‘half past’, and ‘quarter to’ to denote 15, 30 and 45 minutes past the hour. Thus 10:30 would be referred to as half past ten etc. 10:45 would be quarter to 11 etc. For other times the minutes would be referred to ie 10:20 would be ‘20 past 10’, 10:50 would be ‘10 to eleven’ etc.

Thought you might be interested in this aspect of communicating time but in answer to your specific question you would describe 18:00 as 6 PM.

“Eighteen o’clock” seems perfectly logical to me. I would have a few issues with “twenty-five o’clock” though…

Even if you were to write “18:00,” only in the military would you read it as “eighteen-hundred.” Unless you are involved in military operations or some other specialised field, it is usual to refer to it as “6 p.m.”

Even if you were to write “18:00,” only in the military would you read it as “eighteen-hundred.” Unless you are involved in military operations or some other specialised field, it is usual to refer to it as “6 p.m.”

Oh and, by the way, 12 p.m. is noon and 12 a.m. is midnight. I’ve recently discovered (to my surprise) that there seem to be a lot of people who don’t understand this.

We always say “eighteen o’clock” in Austria.
Base 12 time seems way too confusing, obsolete, outdated, cumbersome and pretty much everything that denotes backwardsness to me. :smiley:

Including the designer of the meeting room scheduling software my company uses. At least once a week I get a call from someone who scheduled a noon meeting that isn’t showing up on the calendar. They correctly scheduled their meeting for 12:00 p.m., and the system booked it at midnight. You have to enter 12:00 a.m. in order to schedule a meeting for noon. :rolleyes:

Thanks for all the responses, everyone! Especially this one:

I have to admit that sounds very silly to my American-English-trained ear, like “eleventy-one” for 111. :slight_smile:

How is this different from the way it is said in the US? Sure there is ten fifteen but a quarter past (or after) ten is probibly just as common or even more so.

I used the 24-hour clock when I volunteered in my fir department. We said eighteen hundred, or thirteen fifty(1:50pm) or zero zero zero one (12:01 am).

Actually, Morelin brings up a good question. If you say “one o’clock” for 1:00 (one hour past midnight), “two o’clock” for 2:00, fifteen o’clock" for 15:00, etc, what do you say for the times between 00:00 and 00:59:59?

If you say 24:00 to 24:59 (along the model for saying 12:00 AM to 12:59 AM), you’re implicitly referencing the previous day, although the model is similar to the one for saying 12:00 to 12:59 AM. “Zero zero zero one” for 00:01 doesn’t seem to fit the model of saying the rest of the hours.

00:00 = “zero o’clock”?
00:59 = “zero fifty nine”?

I’m not in the military and I use the 24-hour clock as often as I can. I prefer to say 1800 as eighteen hundred (and drop the colons when I write it out). Midnight maps to 0000, or zero hundred. I think 2400 is simply wrong: The day has 24 hours, from 0 to 23 inclusive, not 25. What’s more, midnight belongs to the following day. It goes from October 8 at 2359 to October 9 at 0000, not October 8 at 2400 or October 9 at 2400.

Come on - you’re familair with every industry in the world, are you? “specialised” is pretty broad, I suspect it’s more common than your personal experience.

Pro theatre, musical, festival staff generally use a 24 hour clock, so there is no room for misunderstandings (they often need to work around the clock, so “five o’clock” could mean either). People would say “eighteen hundred” (6pm), or “twenty thirty” (8.30pm).

That happens to be an industry I am familair with, but I am sure others use a 24hour clock, too.

Lets keep it factual, eh?


In the United States at least, the 24-hour clock is referred to as “military time” and, as illustrated above, always pronounced military style when used (“eighteen hundred” for 18:00 or “oh six hundred” for 06:00). It’s used pretty often in professional settings, including non-military like the fire department and pro theatre, but rarely casually. Offering to pick up a date at “nineteen hundred hours” sounds rather out of place to my ears.

What makes the 12-hour system persistent, I assume, is that we still use those old-fashioned circular things with two hands pointing at 12 numbers to tell time. Considering we Americans still haven’t grasped the metric system either, it only makes sense that we stick to the good old 12-hour clock and check the sun to see whether it’s a.m. or p.m.

Actually, we speak German in Austria, and I think that Apollon just wanted to say that we do use all numbers from 0 (zero) to 23 in addition with the German equivalent of o’clock (Uhr) when talking about time, although there is also a more old-fashioned way that’s like using AM and PM in English.
And yes, by this analogy, we do say zero o’clock when we refer to times between 0:00 and 0:59.

I know the OP asked for English speaking, but I’m throwing in my €0.02 worth:
18:39 is “klockan arton o trettio” (clock eighteen and tyhirty). However, in every day life, when the exact time can be deduced from context, we say “klockan nio (9)” about 9 p.m., not “twenty-one” Or “I took a nap after work, 'tween four and five”, not sixteen and seventeen.

Being familiar with the 24hr clock, makes it easier reading timetables, and being specific, when needed, but that’s IMHO territory, so I won’t go there.

Britain uses the 24 hour clock for railway time. So the train station announcements say “eighteen hundred hours”, or “fifteen twenty-seven” or suchlike. The colon is optional. Midnight, IIRC, is “zero hundred hours”.

I know this was only a tangent, but …
TitoBenito, Corky was pointing out that in Ireland and England we use “past” and “to”, rather than “after” and “of” in the US (at least in my experience).
Also, for thirty minutes after the hour, we often drop the “past” part. So 1.30 = half one.

And from memory of learning German, I think the Germans do it the other way around - they drop the “to” and “past”, but 1.30 would be halb zwei (“half two”).


Colloquially, a friend of mine who is ex-military and I will use military time frequently: “I’ll meet you at the pub at twenty-hundred,” for example. Makes things easier. But with my wife, I use the regular 12-hour clock: “I’m meeting my buddy at eight tonight, but I’ll be home by ten,” would be typical of something I’d say to her.

Interestingly, Canada’s passenger rail system (VIA Rail) uses the 24-hour clock in its timetables and stations and such–I remember waiting in Montreal’s Central Station once, looking at the departures board, and seeing that the Halifax train left at 1845. That may have been Montreal, but I don’t think VIA’s 24-hour clock has anything to do with the French influence–looking at the English version of a recent VIA timetable, I can see that if I leave Toronto at 0900 on Thursday, I’ll be in Capreol at 1635 that day, and in Winnipeg at 1535 on Friday. Assuming the train runs on time, of course.