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Old 11-17-2011, 09:52 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
20,571 posts, read 25,620,517 times
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OK, so I was wondering how generalized the use of the 24-hour clock is, if this is what you use personally, and if this is what your country uses.

Another question I have is whether you or people around you have trouble understanding or even complain about the 24-hour clock (for example), that it is confusing and that when they see something like 22:00 they can't instinctively/quickly figure out what time it is.

As for my observations:

I live in Québec but I have also lived in several other parts of Canada and have travelled extensively around the world.

My general observations for the U.S. and Canada (except Quebec) is that the 12-hour clock rules the day pretty much everywhere. Signs on doors of stores say AM and PM, tickets for events use AM and PM, as do almost all public transit schedules as well as airline schedules. Digital clocks almost always display the 12-hour clock.

One major exception is the military in both the U.S. and Canada which uses the 24-hour clock. Also, Air Canada uses the 24-hour clock as does OC Transpo, the transit system in Ottawa, Ontario. GO Transit, which runs commuter trains in the Toronto area also uses the 24-hour clock, although the city of Toronto's transit system uses AM and PM just like most other Canadian and American transit systems.

In speech, my sense is that no one outside of a military setting would say 2200 hours or 22 o'clock.

As for Quebec, in officialdom and even with less official stuff but that is written down, the 24-hour clock is the massively dominant usage with the French-style "h" used for "hours". So 7:30 am is 7 h 30. 9 pm is 21 h. And so on. This is what you see on the doors of businesses and on concert tickets, etc.

Street signs in Ottawa, Ontario use AM and PM and 12 hours, whereas just across the river in Gatineau, Quebec they use the 24-hour clock with the "h".

Now, AM and PM is not completely absent in Quebec, so you do see "9 h AM" or even "9:00 AM" on occasion, but it's infrequent. Although since many electronics products are "continental" stuff like clock radios in Quebec will usually display AM and PM over 12 hours.

The 24-hour clock is widely used in formal speech but the 12-hour clock is much more common in informal speech. Few people in Quebec would say "on se rencontre à 21 heures" (we will meet at 9 pm), instead they would say "on se rencontre à 9 heures du soir" (we will meet at 9 in the evening).

A Quebecer will look at a concert ticket, see "14 h" written on it, and automatically say "ça commence à 2 heures" (it starts at 2).

This is somewhat different from France, where I have observed that people often use the 24-hour clock even in informal speech. Not exclusively, but it is much more commonly heard.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: London, UK
412 posts, read 826,798 times
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I'm sorry, but this must be one of the most banal thread topics possible. Perhaps we could have one next about whether you wipe your bum from front to back or vice-versa?
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
20,571 posts, read 25,620,517 times
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Well, we have had threads on the metric system and other similar stuff, so either humour me or don't pay attention!
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:33 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
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In the Netherlands we always use the 24-hour clock system, the AM/PM system doesn't exist here. However, in speech it is more common to say "zeven uur 's ochtends" or "zeven uur 's avonds" (seven o'clock in the morning/seven o'clock in the evening). I've never heard of anyone being confused by the 24-hour system, I think if you've used it all your life it becomes instinctive for you. When I see 22:00, I immediately associate it with 10 PM. In contrast, the times on this board are written in AM/PM style and it still shocks me sometimes when I see posts written at 04:30 because my first reaction is "wow, that's in the middle of the night" and only then I realize that it's PM
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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We're in Brazil. 24 hour system probably more prevalent, but 12-hour system also used, especially in informal conversations (vs. official documents, etc.). They don't use a.m. or p.m. here, just descriptive add-ons (e.g., uma hora de tarde, meaning one o'clock in the afternoon).
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,523,609 times
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I convert in my mind so easily, I can't even remember where each system is in use.

But it seems kind of stupid to have two "four o'clocks" every day, when it is so easy to have only one without any ambiguity.

How would it work if each month were divided into two parts, and if you said "May 3", you would have to explain whether you meant the first May 3, or the last May 3.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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I use both easily.
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:26 PM
 
30,312 posts, read 31,181,855 times
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In China, Israel, Ecuador and most Western European countries a 24 hour clock is used. I think a 24 clock is more common in most of the world than 12 hour am/pm clock used in the USA.
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Yucaipa, California
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The only time i used the 24 hr clock was when i was in the military. I prefer the 12 hr clock but can do both if need be.
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:01 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
22,198 posts, read 22,368,348 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
In China, Israel, Ecuador and most Western European countries a 24 hour clock is used. I think a 24 clock is more common in most of the world than 12 hour am/pm clock used in the USA.
Yup. I often use 16:48pm and Americans will ask 'What is that'
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