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Whether you’re used to writing 12 p.m., 12 noon, or simply noon, you might wonder what’s the correct way to refer to noon in your writing?
If you’re telling someone something is happening at noon, or you’re filing a report and need to reference midday, you’ll need to ensure you write the time correctly. This will reduce any confusion for your reader.
In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of noon, 12:00, 12 p.m., and how to use these in sentences. We’ve also got a tip for remembering when to use 12 p.m. in your writing.
What Time Is Noon?
Noon is universally acknowledged as midday or the twelfth hour after midnight. In the 24 hours of the day, noon is at the beginning of the twelfth hour, whereas midnight is the precise moment one day ends and the next day begins.
How does this tell us if noon is a.m. or p.m.? Well, to answer this, we need to look at the meaning of a.m. and p.m.
A.m. is defined as “ante meridiem” and p.m. stands for “post meridiem.” These are the Latin phrases that translate into before midday (a.m.) and after midday (p.m.).
As noon is midday, it cannot come before or after midday. So, noon is neither a.m. nor p.m. While this sounds simple enough, most people still write noon as “post meridiem” or p.m. in informal or conversational writing.
If you want to use 12:00 p.m. instead of noon, you can add some extra details or context to ensure your reader understands what time you’re referring to. For example, lunchtime is around midday for most people. If you’re talking about having lunch at 12:00 p.m., they’re likely to understand you mean noon.
It’s best to use noon or midday if you want to be absolutely specific about when something is taking place or has happened.
You might be tempted to add 12 before the word noon to ensure you’re being specific. However, most style guides, including the Chicago Manual of Style, tell us not to do this.
What Time Is 12:00?
To figure out what time is 12:00, it depends on which clock you’re using. If you’re using an analog clock, 12:00 represents either noon or midnight. You can specify whether it’s 12 midday or 12 midnight by using a.m. or p.m.
Most people will use a.m. or p.m. based on the hour succeeding 12. For example, the hour after noon is p.m., so it makes sense to use 12:00 p.m. to refer to noon. The hour after midnight is a.m., which means you can write that time as 12:00 a.m.
If you’re using a 24-hour clock, digital clock, or military time, 12:00 is noon or midday. Military time also refers to noon as 12:00 p.m. You don't need to add p.m. to 12:00 because 12:00 military time will always be noon. However, it’s a standard practice in military time, so it’s fine to use in this circumstance.
Another thing to remember is that military/24-hour time can be written without the colon after the hour. For example, 12:00 can be written as 1200 hr.
If you are going to write 12:00 p.m., it’s also worth noting you don’t need to add the zeros after the hour. If you’re writing the time exactly on the hour, you can simply write it as 12 p.m. instead of 12:00 p.m.
Examples of 12 P.M. Used in Sentences
Here are some example sentences where we’ve used 12 p.m. to refer to noon.
● We’ve moved the meeting to 12 p.m. and pushed back lunch to 1 p.m.
● Most people think the sun is at its highest point at 12 p.m., but that’s not always the case.
● The wedding ceremony is at 12 p.m., and we won’t be having food until 3 p.m.
● We’re going to the beach at 12 p.m. to sunbathe.
How to Remember When Is 12 P.M.
12 p.m. is noon, and you can remember this by noting that any time from 00:00 to 11:59 a.m. is before noon, which is the morning. Therefore, anything from 12:00 to 23:59 is p.m., which is in the afternoon and night.
If you’re reading a document or message, and you want to check if the person is referring to 12 p.m. as noon, check the context of the sentence. Do they refer to anything else that would usually happen at noon? Have they used the 24-hour clock in other parts of the conversation or document?
It’s always going to be clearer to use noon instead of 12 p.m., but if you’re writing informally or having a conversation, it’s perfectly acceptable to use 12 p.m. or 12:00 p.m. instead.