The Editor’s Manual

Free learning resource on English grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.

  • Abbreviations

How to Use AM and PM

Neha Karve

Follow these generally accepted guidelines to use a.m. and p.m. (or AM and PM ) correctly in formal writing:

  • Use the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. to indicate exact time.
  • Use a.m. to refer to a time of day before noon, and p.m. to speak of a time between noon and midnight.
  • Use numerals or figures instead of words to denote time with a.m. and p.m. ( eleven / 8 a.m. ) in formal texts.
  • Although both hours and minutes are often presented in formal or official documents, specifying the minutes is optional for whole hours ( 8 a.m. or 8:00 a.m. ).
  • In running text, a.m. and p.m. are usually lowercased with periods after the letters of the abbreviations; however, they may also be capitalized ( 8:01 a.m. or 8:01 AM ).
  • Avoid using expressions of time like “in the morning” and “at night” with a.m. and p.m. ( 8 a.m. in the morning ).
  • Use the words noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

Graphic titled "a.m. & p.m." The left panel shows an illustration of a white alarm clock against a pastel green background. The clock face is divided into day and night. The right panel lists the following rules and examples: Use "a.m." and "p.m." to indicate exact time ("The sun set at 8:01 p.m."). Use numerals with "a.m." and "p.m." ("Maya woke up today at 8 a.m."). When lowercased, use periods. If capitalized, omit the periods ("At 8:01 a.m./8:01 AM, the alarm rang").

What do a.m. and p.m. mean?

The abbreviation a.m. , which comes from the Latin ante meridiem ( before midday ), designates the first 12-hour period of the day. The second half of the day takes the abbreviation p.m. , from post meridiem ( after midday ).

  • Tumkin wakes up at 6 a.m. everyday. in the morning (before noon)
  • The staff break for lunch at 1:15 p.m. in the afternoon (after midday)

When to use and how to write a.m. and p.m. is a matter of style rather than grammar . Discussed here are commonly accepted guidelines.

When to use

Use the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. to emphasize exact time . Specifying the exact time is preferred in formal contexts, such as in official communication.

  • Please be present at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
  • All goods must leave the warehouse by 2 p.m.
  • The deadline to submit the application has been extended to 4:45 p.m.
  • The doctor is available from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

When the exact time is not important, and in informal contexts, such as in everyday speech, the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. are often omitted. In particular, when it is clear which half of the day is being referred to, using these abbreviations may sound unnecessarily formal. Speakers then use phrases like o’clock , half past , and a quarter past , or simply the numbers for time.

  • It’s eleven o’clock , and I still haven’t finished my report. Presumably, the listener knows whether the speaker is referring to eleven in the morning or the evening.
  • I’ll be done by half past ten .
  • We break for lunch at a quarter past one .
  • I’ll be there by 2:30 .
  • They work from nine to six every day.

Numerals or words?

With the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. , always use numerals or figures instead of words to denote time in formal writing.

  • The bell rang at 1 p.m.
  • The conference began at 11:30 a.m.
  • We have a meeting at 4 p.m. today.
  • Please submit your applications by 10 a.m. on Monday.

To show approximate rather than exact time, you may omit a.m. or p.m. , and use words instead of numerals.

  • We worked from one to three thirty in the afternoon.

In informal and creative writing, words are often used instead of numerals to show the time.

  • Informal: It was just three p.m. but dark outside. Formal: Submit your reports by 3 p.m.
  • Informal: We left the coroner’s office at nine PM . Formal: The coroner’s report arrived at 9 PM .

Hours and minutes

In a time reference using a.m. or p.m. , always indicate the hour. Showing minutes is optional. Where exact time is important, such as in official, academic, and technical writing, prefer to show both hours and minutes.

  • Class starts at 10 a.m. / 10:00 a.m.
  • Class is from 10 to 11 a.m. / 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
  • Anita works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. / 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

If you show minutes for one time reference, show them for all references in that context.

  • Poor: Class is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Better: Class is from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Poor: I’m busy from 2 to 4:00 p.m. today. Better: I’m busy from 2 to 4 p.m. today.

Use of periods and capitals

In general, use lowercase letters with periods after the letters of the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. , particularly in running text. These abbreviations are sometimes capitalized —for example, in signs and notices. The periods are then omitted.

  • Our ship sails at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday.
  • The local coffee shop is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
  • Open: 7 AM to 9 PM sign outside a coffee shop

Most style manuals , like the Chicago Manual of Style , the AP Stylebook , and the APA Publication Manual , recommend using lowercase letters for a.m. and p.m. , with periods between the letters of these abbreviations.

If a.m. or p.m. appears at the end of a sentence, don’t use two consecutive periods . Use the same period to mark both the abbreviation and the end of the sentence.

  • Incorrect: All the clocks stopped at 12:33 a.m.. Correct: All the clocks stopped at 12:33 a.m.

If you do capitalize these abbreviations in running text, prefer to use small capital letters (small caps).

  • Our space shuttle leaves at 3:15 PM on Thursday.
  • My phone is switched off from 6 PM Friday to 8 AM Monday.

In British usage , periods are sometimes omitted in lowercase abbreviations: Colin drinks tea at 4 pm every day.

Space before AM and PM

Always insert a space after the numerals used to denote the time, regardless of whether you lowercase or capitalize the abbreviations a.m. and p.m.

  • From 2 to 3 a.m. every day, Poco practices playing the guitar.
  • The Durandians landed in Farley’s garden at 8:33 a.m. last Monday.
  • Let’s meet at 9:30 AM on Monday.
  • Matinee: 12:30 PM

Noon and midnight

Noon is neither a.m. nor p.m. , since “a.m.” refers to times before noon and “p.m.” to those after. Simply use the words noon and midnight instead of 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. Not only is this correct, it is also less confusing.

  • Incorrect: It started raining at 12 p.m. Correct: It started raining at noon .
  • Incorrect: All the alarms went off together at 12 a.m. Correct: All the alarms went off together at midnight .

Placing the numeral 12 before noon or midnight is redundant (the time is always 12 on the clock at noon and midnight). Although such usage is common in speech, avoid it in writing.

  • It was 12 midnight , but our work wasn’t over yet.
  • Measure the length of the shadow at 12 noon .

Expressions of time

Since a.m. and p.m. clearly indicate which part of the day is being referred to, expressions of time like in the morning , this afternoon , and tonight are unnecessary with these time abbreviations. Although such expressions are common in speech, avoid using them with a.m. / p.m. in formal writing.

  • Poor: Tumkin’s flight is at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon . Better: Tumkin’s flight is at 2 p.m. on Sunday .

Consistency in usage

While writing time of day, don’t mix styles within a single context. Stay consistent in usage with relation to a.m. / p.m. , numerals, and hours and minutes.

  • Poor: The bus leaves Butterworth at 9:30 a.m. and reaches Melaka at 4 o’clock . Better: The bus leaves Butterworth at 9:30 a.m. and reaches Melaka at 4:00 p.m. Better: The bus leaves Butterworth at half past nine in the morning and reaches Melaka at four in the afternoon .
  • Poor: Farley slept at 1:00 a.m. and woke up at six . Better: Farley slept at 1 a.m. and woke up at 6 a.m. Better: Farley slept at 1:00 a.m. and woke up at 6:00 a.m. Better: Farley slept at one and woke up at six .

Considerations of formality

In formal texts , prefer to use a.m. and p.m. with numerals for time. In informal usage, such as in speech and creative writing, using words can sound more natural.

  • Formal: The first shift is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Informal: I work from nine to five on weekdays.
  • Formal: Departure is at 11:25 a.m. Informal: We leave at eleven twenty-five .
  • Formal: The meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. Informal: Is it half past ten already?

In scientific writing, the 24-hour system of time is often used instead of the 12-hour system. On the 24-hour clock, the day is represented by a single 24-hour period instead of two 12-hour periods: 6 a.m. is 06:00, and 6 p.m. is 18:00.

Share this article

Use a.m. and p.m. to express and emphasize exact time.

With a.m. and p.m. , use numerals instead of words in formal texts.

Place a period after the letters of the lowercase abbreviations a.m. and p.m.

Expressions of time like in the morning are redundant with a.m. and p.m.

Noon is neither a.m. nor p.m. Simply use the words noon or midnight to refer to 12 on the clock.

Use a consistent style, either words or numerals, to refer to time. In formal and official writing, numerals with a.m. and p.m. are preferred.

how to write time in an essay

Writing the Time: How to Write Time Correctly (Examples)

how to write time in an essay

If you want to learn how to write time correctly, you've come to the right place. This article will teach you everything you know to use time correctly in your writing.

The time can be written in letters or numerals and follows various conventions. To learn more, read on.

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.

How to Write the Time in Numerals

Before you can learn how to write the time in your texts correctly, you need to know about the different ways of measuring time. There are two commonly used ones: the 12- hour and 24-hour formats. Let's review each one by one.

12-Hour System

The 12-hour system uses the numbers 1 to 12 to measure time and the abbreviations' am' and 'pm' to specify whether the time mentioned is in the morning or the afternoon. The hours from 1 to 12 before noon count as the morning, and the hours between 1 and 12 after noon count as... well, afternoon.

There are a few different ways to write the time using the 12-hour system. What they all have in common is that you begin by stating the number. You can then follow the number with the abbreviation 'am' or 'pm;' the phrase 'in the morning,' 'in the afternoon,' or 'at night,' or the word' o'clock.'

Here are some examples:

Let's have lunch at 11am. I need you in the office by 2 in the afternoon. In January it gets dark at 3pm.

In informal writing, it's okay to use just the number to mention the time ("Let's meet at 5.") as long as it's safe to assume the person will know whether you mean morning, afternoon, evening, or night .

  • It's worth noting there are several different ways to write the abbreviations' am' and 'pm.' Some like to capitalize them; others keep them lowercase.
  • Some use periods between the letters while others don't, and some leave a space after the number while others don't.

Here are some representations of the different ways this can look using the example time of 8 in the morning:

Some spellcheckers will even have you use a period after the first letter but not the second one. All these variations are correct, and which one you should use depends on the style guide you follow.

The main thing is to stay consistent.

24-Hour system

The 24- hour system uses—you guessed it—24 numbers to measure the time. The numbers 1 to 12 refer to the morning hours, while numbers 13 to 24 refer to the afternoon and evening hours. Due to the system's intricacy, you don't need to use phrases such as 'in the morning,' nor must you use 'am' or 'pm.'

They're expected to land at 13:45.  The screening begins at 20:00 but there'll be some trailers before that. I heard the meeting started at 8:00.

Notice I've used a colon between the hours and the minutes in the examples above. You can also use a period .

Top Tip! The military system also uses the 24-hour system but without the colon/period, followed by the word "hours." For example: Take off at 300 hours.

How to Write the Time in Letters

There are times you might want to write the time in letters. Like when? Well, like with all things, it's primarily up to you. Just make sure to remain consistent, whatever you choose to do.

Nonetheless, here are some guidelines you might decide to follow:

  • Write the time in letters only when it won't burden the page. For instance, '7:25' is better than 'twenty-five past seven.' 'Eight' and '8:00' are equivalent.
  • Never write 24-hour format time in letters.
  • Use the words' noon' and 'midnight' over the numerals' 12 pm,' '12am,' '12:00,' or '24:00.' It's just more straightforward.
  • With o'clock, you can use either numerals or words.
  • When the time you're writing isn't on the hour, remember to use words such as 'past,' 'after,' 'til,' and 'to.'

Here are some examples to illustrate some of these guidelines:

My son's so lazy; he never gets up before noon. What do you think of meeting at five o'clock for cocktails? It's already half past one!

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article on how to write time correctly. I hope you found it helpful.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • The time can be written in a 12-hour or 24-hour format.
  • When writing the time in numerals, use words like 'am,' 'pm,' and the phrases 'in the morning,' 'in the afternoon,' or 'at night.' 
  • 'O'clock' can be used with numerals or letters.
  • You can choose to write the time in numerals or letters; just stay consistent.

If you found this article helpful, check out our Grammar Book . It's an online database of articles that break down complex grammar topics into easy-to-understand guides. You'll love it!

Learn More:

  • How to Write Height Correctly - Writing Feet and Inches
  • How to Write a List Correctly: Colons, Commas, and Semicolons
  • Apostrophes: When to Use Apostrophes in Writing (Examples)
  • Ellipses: When to Use Ellipses in Writing (Examples)
  • Italics and Underlining: When to Use Italics and Underlining in Writing (Examples)
  • ‘Restaurateur’ or ‘Restauranteur’: How to Spell It Correctly 
  • ‘Goodmorning’ or ‘Good Morning’: How to Spell ‘Good Morning’ Correctly
  • ‘Holliday’ or ‘Holiday’: How to Spell ‘Holiday’ Correctly
  • ‘Colum’ or ‘Column’: How to Spell ‘Column’ Correctly
  • ‘Absence’ or ‘Absense’: How to Spell ‘Absence’ Correctly
  • ‘Eachother’ or ‘Each Other’: How to Spell ‘Each Other’ Correctly
  • ‘Ninty’ or ‘Ninety’: How to Spell the Number ‘90’ Correctly
  • ‘Nieve’ or ‘Naive’: How to Spell It Correctly
  • ‘Wheelbarrel’ or ‘Wheelbarrow’: How to Spell It Correctly
  • ‘Aswell’ or ‘As Well’: How to Spell it Correctly

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook . Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Add new comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Post Comment

how to write time in an essay

IMAGES

  1. How to write an essay on Time

    how to write time in an essay

  2. How to Write a Timed Essay: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    how to write time in an essay

  3. How to Write a Timed Essay: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    how to write time in an essay

  4. How to write essay on Time Management Simple english essay on Time

    how to write time in an essay

  5. Write an essay good use of time || Essay writing on good use of time in

    how to write time in an essay

  6. Essay on importance of time in english || Importance of time essay writing

    how to write time in an essay

VIDEO

  1. write time write use#trending#shorts #time

  2. Telling Time Using “AM and PM in English”

  3. Value of Time Essay in English 10 Lines || Short Essay on Value of Time

  4. Value of time essay // Essay writing on value of time in English // 10 line essay on value of time

  5. 10 lines essay on Importance of Time

  6. Value of Time essay In english