Why doesn’t everybody use the 24 hour clock all the time for everything?

Why doesn’t everybody use the 24 hour clock all the time for everything?

What do you think?


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  1. It’s slowly spreading into standard use thanks to medical and military communities, but it’s definitely taking too long to become the norm in the US. If we taught it in school then it would become normal in a generation.

  2. I think most people don’t do it consistently, not just Americans, as some suggest.

    Here in Germany, times are written in 24h format, except maybe in prose. But in spoken language, 12h is more common, unless precision is important and/or things are not clear from context. You meet your friend “at three o’clock”, even though it’s in the afternoon (15:00), but a train will arrive at “Seventeen forty-three” if asked when exactly it does.

  3. might make sense when/if analog clocks disappear from society completely

    but it would be annoying for analog clocks to show 24 hours since it would mean all the ticks have to be smaller

  4. Same reason a lot of other antiquated and inefficient measures have stuck around: It’s not worth it to most people to bother changing anything.

    People change when and if they need to change. For the professions and communities where they operate on a 24 hour cycle, and the differentiation between morning and evening either isn’t obvious, or is critical to get right, they use 24 hour time. Aviation, medicine, military, etc. All of them use 24 hour time.

    But for most people, it doesn’t matter. If you say you’re going to meet someone at 3, they know you mean in the afternoon, and it’s just not worth it to them to bother expressing that as 15:00.

  5. It’s weird. I live in Europe and use the 24 hour clock, but I *also* use the 12 hour clock. Someone might ask me what time it is, and I reply 17:10, or ten past five.

  6. There are, question answered! I should have phrased it as “why isn’t it more widely used” as to me it seems like a much more sensible system, but people have vastly overestimated my level of investment. If it was important I would join a campaigning group or something, not ask reddit. But I was curious and people obliged, so cheers for the answers all!

    (To clarify, I’m British and use both 12 and 24 clocks depending on context, I presume that’s the same most places)

  7. I started using the 24h clock personally about 2 years ago, but only because of my job. I have to track times in a 12h format but my process runs on a 24h clock which was a bit confusing at times. Using 24h clock in my daily life helped me out. Before if I saw 22:15 it would take a minute for my brain to calculate 10:15pm 😆

  8. I grew up and still living in a country with 24h format. Once i discovered 12h format with Am and Pm, I instantly started using it. I think it’s easier. A matter of fact, in every day life we don’t use to say it’s 20 or 21st hour, we say is 9 in the evening.

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