Intro: The way to express time in Britain can be confusing and sometimes expressions are very close to the way we in Sweden express time, but with a different meaning. “Half two” sounds very similar to “halv två” but the difference is a whole hour. Getting to a meeting with Mike on time at “Midday” represents further potential confusion and misunderstanding. By “Midday” he means 12 noon. Also, midday is easy to translate to “middag” or “eftermiddag” in Sweden, meaning sometime between lunch and the evening meal!
0:33 - We meet at a coffee shop and start talking about how to express time. We start with expression “o´clock”. It is not “a clock”, it is “o´clock”, and means “of the clock”, at the top of the hour.
1:10 - The way some Britons abbreviate “half past” and just say “half” can be really confusing to a Swede. Take “Half two” as an example. It actually means “half past two”, as in
2.30. In Sweden we say “halv två”, which sounds almost the same but is our way to say, “half past one”, 13.30. The risk of misunderstanding could be disastrous for any meeting, particularly business but even also for personal dates, if you don’t check the time to which the other party is referring.
3:15 - The British time system is based on 12 hours with “am” (Latin ante meridiem) or “pm” (post meridiem) added to specify if it is before or after noon.
3:41 - We talk about noon, midnight and midday. Midnight is exactly 00.00, midday is exactly 12.00 and differs from the way we in Sweden use almost the same expression “Middag” – and this of course, can also lead to confusion.
4:50 - An exception from the 12-hour time system is the way the UK Services (Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force) express time. They all use the 24-hour system with expressions like “twenty-one hundred” (21.00) instead of using “09.00 pm”. Transport systems also use the 24-hour system.
5.35 - “Zero hundred hours” is the same as 00.00. We end by discussing the best way to say the number 0.
A useful hint from Mike
O'clock derives from "of the clock". This references the time as told from a clock, rather than a sundial. Probably used from the 14th century onward. (Source: Google)
In conversation and to avoid confusion, always best to take the hour first then the minutes, e.g. 2.30 pm, rather than half-past two. Always check with the person with whom you are speaking, to make sure you both understand what time you are to meet.
Rather than midday, use noon, which is more universal.
In all professional environments, use Zero rather than O.