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.