It’s Time for Some Time

Did you know that Latvians don’t exclusively use a 12 hour clock like we Americans do? They often use a 24 hour clock instead! When translating times for 24 hour clocks, remember to add 12 to PM times – 2:00 pm is equal to 14:00.

Formally, times are posted using a 24 hour clock but informally, Latvians often use the 12 hour clock and specify when needed for uncommon or ambiguous times. It depends on the speaker which they will use in any given situation. As with English, context will take care of most of the ambiguity.

How to express AM and PM

There isn’t a direct equivalent of AM and PM, instead phrases equivalent to “in the morning” or “in the afternoon” are used, which makes rather more sense than our AM/PM conventions. (I mean really, ante-meridian and post-meridian? When’s the last time you actually thought about what AM or PM means?)

AM would be expressed as:

  • no rīta – in the morning
  • pa nakti – during the night, at night
  • naktī – in the night

PM is a bit more difficult. Potential translations include:

  • pa dienu – during the day
  • dienā – in the day, during the day (this doesn’t translate well)
  • pēcpusdienā – in the afternoon, after midday
  • vakarā – in the evening

What about midnight?

To avoid confusion, the start of the day on a 24 hour clock is 00, the end is 24.  Thus, a 24-hour shop is open from 00 to 24.

If you wanted to meet someone later that night at midnight, you would meet them at 24, but if you needed to wake up at midnight to make it to work for a graveyard shift, you would be up at 00.

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8 Responses to It’s Time for Some Time

  1. Man from Earth says:


    I’ve just found your blog recently, but it still helped me a lot! Great job, keep it up! ^^

  2. suba says:

    Didn’t you mix up AM-PM? with AM talking about night and PM about day? And midnight is also called pusnakts here. And many cultures and places uses24 hrs clock..but anyway nice blog…I too am learning latvian and stumbled upon yours.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Hi Suba,

      Thanks for stopping by! No, I didn’t mix up AM/PM :) That’d be pretty difficult for me to do since it’s all I’ve known. AM is used for the hours between midnight and noon and PM for the hours between noon and midnight. In practice, AM refers to morning (including the wee hours of the night) and PM refers to afternoon/evening. 3am is as often referred to as morning as it is night, it just depends on which end you’re looking at it from. Still, as this entry is more about how to use appropriate times of the day in Latvian rather than how to use AM/PM in English, I didn’t feel it necessary to go into a full explanation.

      Yes, many cultures and countries use a 24hr clock, but that’s really off-topic for this blog. :)

  3. suba says:

    Yes, you are correct and I was wrong.
    Thanks for the blog, some pretty helpful posts you do have – one on kas and ko was really good. I am finding learning latvian not that easy – perhaps a bit easier when i try to approach it from non-english mindset.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Oh no worries! I’m glad you’re finding it useful and please do comment if you see something that doesn’t look right. Chances are if one person isn’t sure, there’s about a dozen wondering quietly to themselves!

      What language(s) do you speak, if I may ask? Latvian can be quite challenging, but my husband tells me that some languages make it easier to learn Latvian than others. (English sadly is not one of them.)

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