12:00 a.m. / p.m? I got it finally.

No offending there, this is just for my English practice.


Although I've referred to some of articles but still was confused. Today I asked around in a chat room about this question, and finally I figured out 12-hour system. I will try to write down it here according to my personal understanding for your reference.

Let's have a look at the formation of a time first:

"12:00a.m. Feb. 2"

We can see the above information consist of two blocks, the time block and the date block. We all must be quite clear with the date block. In this case, we are on the day February the second no doubt.

For the other block, the time block, it consists of two parts as well. The time part, that is "12:00", and "a.m." part. The "a.m." is an abbreviation of the "ante merdiane". Let me make an introduce before we go further. In 12-hour time system, a day is separated into two time periods: the first period is from midnight to noon, which is indicated by "a.m."; the second period is from noon to midnight, which is indicated by "p.m."

As one day is 24 hours long, we are either in the period of "a.m." or "p.m.". Both of them are all indicate the CURRENT status of which 12-hour we are in. This is what "a.m." or "p.m." tells.

The other part of the time block is "12:00". This is a bad guy, really bad ;-) Beforehand, I'd like to ask if you may find "00:00" in 12-hour time system? Or, have you ever heard this kind of expression from anyone who is living within a 12-hour time system country or territory? You may find a truth that there's no 00:00 in 12-hour time system. Why? Because 12:00 means how long the time has passed till the current point of time. For instance, Feb. 2 8:00a.m., is it eight o'clock in the morning on Feb. 2? Yes, it is. BUT, actually the true description should be: "In the morning on Feb. 2, the time of today has been passed for 8 hours from the midnight till the current point of time."

Weird?! Of course, it is! The time value in the 12-hour time system try to tell you how long the time has passed by, not the exact point of time. Therefore, you may not find "00:00" in such time system. Because, 00:00 makes no sense to describe the time elapsed.

Then, I guess a big question mark comes to you, how can you describe Feb. 2 00:00? Right, it should be "Feb. 2 12:00a.m."

Whaaaaaat???? Yes, it is not my misspelling. As I said before, the time block try to describe a time elapsed, in the case "Feb. 1 11:59p.m.", you may say: Oh, we are on Feb. 1, and now is in the period of second half of the day. Hmmm, the elapsed time should be 11 hours and 59 minutes. Okay, that's fine. but what will happen in the next minute? As the date block and "a.m./p.m." are telling us the status of current point of time. Thus, when the next minute comes, these two blocks should go forward as "Feb. 2" and "a.m." - We are on the new day "Feb. 2", and now we are in the first half of the day. Then, let's focus on time block. Will it be "00:00"? As we said before, there's no "00:00" indeed. Will it be "0:01"? No, of course not. we cannot add 1 minute deviation into the time system. It's incorrect! Answer is "12:00". Woooow, amazing?! How can you explain this date and time? "Feb. 2 12:00a.m."? It's quite hard to describe?"

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Comment by Rose Iris on March 13, 2019 at 12:17

You're welcome, Coral and Rick.

By the way...the website is very helpful. You can search for different topics and you may also choose a teacher who holds the lecture. As they come from different countries, you become also familiar with the native English speakers diverse accents.

The site is a free website.

Comment by Coral on March 13, 2019 at 11:55
Thanks Rose for the link. It is very helpful.
Comment by Coral on March 13, 2019 at 11:49
Thanks Rose for the link. It is very helpful.
Comment by Rick on March 13, 2019 at 7:31

Hi Rose, Hi Coral,

The website that Rose mentioned is so cool. I've been learning on that website. And for the time expression, you can find teacher Rebecca made a brilliant explanation of it. Enjoy!

And, many thanks to Rose, I gained a lot from you.

Comment by Rose Iris on March 12, 2019 at 13:16

 Coral, just watch the link of my second comment here on this post. 

The teacher explains everything very well.

Comment by Coral on March 12, 2019 at 12:35
Is it correct to say 12:00 at noon and 12:00 at night?
Comment by Rose Iris on March 11, 2019 at 19:38
Comment by Rick on March 11, 2019 at 18:46

Thanks Rose, thanks SNR.

Yes, the blog was tedious really, agreed. :D

A guy just told me that to replace 12 with 00, then I can make things easier. For example, 12:00am Feb. 2 can be converted into 00:00am Feb.2, it means the beginning of the Feb.2 if I prefer to start counting from 0. Otherwise, I may be confused with the sequence which the "1:00am" comes after "12:00am" within a day.

Actually we have the same case on the months counting. But with months, it is quite easier to understand than time. Because from Jan. to Dec. they all belong to the same year. However, for time counting, we got a "12" with a new date number. Formerly, I always thought 12:00am was at the noon, because I was told that 12:00 means the twelfth hour of a day. Therefore, I understood that the "12:00am Feb.2" should be the last hour in the AM period of the Feb 2. But I was wrong. And I needn't to figure out why, because it is a convention.

Comment by SNR on March 11, 2019 at 12:41

Hi there, 

Rick, you are really good at stretching the topic and writing long long paragraphs. Sorry to say, this blog is too long to read till the end. :) Are you still confused ? Do not complicate and try to keep things simple :D

Comment by Rose Iris on March 11, 2019 at 12:29

Haha, I do agree with Rys. What a mess!
After reading your blog, even someone who knows how to use telling the time could get confused.

Why don't you use to add something like this...
"in the morning, "at noon", "in the afternoon", "in the evening", "at night", "at midnight", "in the early morning"?
Everyone would better understand you.

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