Telling the Time

Telling the Time

The English language day is divided into two halves: AM and PM.

AM and PM come from Latin and allow us to know if we’re talking about the first or the second half of the day.

AM comes from ante merīdiem which means ‘before midday’.

PM is post merīdiem, meaning ‘post midday’.

The ancient Egyptians were the first to split the day up into two blocks of twelve hours and use the sun in the middle of the day to make sure they knew which hour was which.

So, we talk about before the ‘merīdiem’ (midday – 12 o’clock based on the height of the sun) and after or postmerīdiem’.

The easiest way to remember is:

A comes before P so

AM comes first then PM.

If you don’t want to state a particular time, you could also talk about a general part of the day.

Here are some ways we talk about our day.


AM day parts with visual




PM day parts with visual