Date and time notation in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the date is usually written using the DMY format, for example 21 October 2010, or if abbreviated, a stroke is used to separate numbers, for example 21/10/10 or 21/10/2010. However, the month-first form is also found. The time can either be written using 12-hour, for example 4.10 pm, or 24-hour notation, for example 16:10; exact styles vary. However, 24-hour time is rarely spoken except within industries such as rail and bus transport, the police or the military.
Dates are usually written in "day month year" (DMY) order. This order is used in both the traditional all-numeric date (for example "31/12/99") and the expanded form (for example "31 December 1999"). Writing the day of the month as an ordinal number (for example "31st December") is also very common – and since the advent of automatic correction in word processors, the ordinal indicator has been lifted into superscript (for example "31st December") in typed documents, to match the handwritten style. Single-digit numbers for day or month may have a preceding nought (for example "09/09/2015"), but omitting it (for example "9/9/2015") is more usual in handwritten documents. The "dd.mm.yy" format is also used, such that 21 July 2017 could be written as "21.07.17".
When saying the date, it is usually pronounced using "the", then the ordinal number of the day first, then the preposition "of", then the month (for example "the 31st of December"). The month-first form (for example "December the 3rd") was widespread until the mid twentieth-century, and remains the most common format for newspapers across the United Kingdom. The month-first format is still spoken, perhaps more commonly when not including a year in the sentence, but is now less frequently used.
The "day month year" order is also used in modern Welsh (for example "20 Mai 1999", "20fed Mai 1999", "20fed Mai 1999"). The "month day year" order (for example "Mai 20, 1999") was previously more common, it not being unusual to see a Welsh "month day year" date next to an English "day month year" date on a bilingual plaque from the latter half of the 20th century.
"20 Mai 1999" is read as yr ugeinfed o Fai mil naw naw naw with the usual soft mutation of M to F after O (of). 1999 can be read as either mil naw naw naw (thousand nine nine nine) or un naw naw naw (one nine nine nine).
Weeks are generally referred to by the date on which they start, with Monday often treated as the first day of the week, for example "the week commencing 5 March". ISO 8601 week numbers are found in diaries and are used in business.
ISO 8601 has been adopted as British Standard BS ISO 8601:2004, and is popular in specialist use (for example, use-by dates on medical products) and computer applications (including database systems, communication protocols and web pages). The appearance of such big-endian dates is increasing, especially with computer-generated forms and invoices, and Internet-accessible content in an age of globalisation.
Both the 12-hour and 24-hour notations are used in the United Kingdom. The 12-hour notation is still widely used in ordinary life – in spoken language, written communication, and displays. The 24-hour notation is used in timetables and in some computer and other technical applications; computers running Microsoft Windows with UK regional settings display time in 24-hour notation by default. The 24-hour notation is used more often than in the North America – especially for bus, train and airline timetables – but not as commonly as in much of the non-English-speaking world.
It is rare to use the 24-hour format when speaking; for example, 21:30 would be spoken as "half past nine" rather than "twenty-one thirty". However, the spoken 24-hour format is used in airport and railway station announcements: "We regret to inform that the fifteen hundred [15:00] service from Nottingham is running approximately 10 minutes late"; "The next train arriving at Platform four is the twenty-fifteen [20:15] service to London Euston".
To separate different parts of time, either a full point or a colon can be used. For 12-hour time, the point format (for example "1.45 pm") is in common usage and has been recommended by some style guides, including previous editions of the academic manual published by Oxford University Press under various titles, as well as the internal house style book for the University of Oxford staff and that of The Guardian newspaper. The colon format (as in "1:45 pm") is also recognised and is common in digital devices and applications; it is preferred by some British institutions, including University College London and The Times of London. A more descriptive 2014 revision of the academic Oxford guide, New Hart's Rules 2nd ed., concedes that the colon format "is often seen in British usage too", and that either style "is acceptable if applied consistently."
The time-of-day abbreviations are handled in various conflicting styles, including "a.m." and "p.m." with a space between the time and the abbreviation ("1.45 p.m." – preferred by New Hart's Rule); "am" and "pm" with a space ("1.45 pm" – recognised as an alternative usage by Oxford); and the same without a space ("1.45pm" – primarily found in news writing). Oxford's more recent general-audience style and usage guide (Fowler's 4th ed., 2015) says that these are "normally" written with points, and it only grudgingly accepts the unpunctuated style. The unspaced style is not found in the academic or general-audience style guides, only the news journalism ones.
In 24-hour time (sometimes called Continental time), a colon is internationally standard (as in "13:45"). However, some British news publishers favour "13.45" format instead, such as The Guardian. Some stick with the colon, including the Evening Standard and the BBC. Oxford recognises both styles. The Times favoured the point style as recently as 2011, but it does not reflect their current time formatting. The am and pm abbreviations (in any form) are not used with 24-hour time.
In British English, the expression "half [hour]" is used colloquially to denote 30 minutes past the hour. For example, "half ten" means 10:30 (without specifying morning or night). This contrasts with the Dutch, German, Hungarian, Czech, Baltic, and Scandinavian languages, where the same type of expression denotes 30 minutes before the hour.
The following table shows times written in some common approaches to 12-hour and 24-hour notation, and how each time is typically spoken;
|4.30 pm||16:30||half past four|
|10.35 pm||22:35||twenty-five to eleven|
|11.15 am||11:15||quarter past eleven|
|9.18 am||09:18||eighteen minutes past nine|
|5.38 pm||17:38||twenty-two minutes to six|
The Welsh language usage of the 12-hour and 24-hour clocks is similar to that of UK English above. However, the 24-hour notation has only a written, not a spoken form. For example, written 9:00 and 21:00 (or 09.00, etc.) are said (naw o'r gloch, literally 'nine of the bell'). Minutes are always either wedi ('after') or i ('to') the hour, for example 21:18 deunaw (munud) wedi naw (eighteen (minutes) past nine) and 21:42 deunaw (munud) i ddeg ('eighteen (minutes) to ten'). Phrases such as y bore ('(of) the morning'), y prynhawn ('(of) the afternoon') and yr hwyr ('(of) the evening') are used to distinguish times in 12-hour notation, much like Latin am and pm, which are also in common use, for example 9.00yb (09:00) as opposed to 9.00yh (21:00).
- Marsh, David; Hodsdon, Amelia. Guardian Style. Guardian Books. pp. 87, 297. ISBN 9780852652220.
- International Standard ISO 15223: Medical devices – Symbols to be used with medical device labels, labeling and information to be supplied
- Ritter, Robert M., ed. (2003). "7.9: Time of day". Oxford Style Manual. Oxford University Press. p. 178. This material has also been published, with different pagination, as The Oxford Guide to Style and New Hart's Rules [1st ed.].
- Public Affairs Directorate (2016). "University of Oxford style guide" (PDF). Ox.ac.uk. University of Oxford. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- "times". Guardian and Observer style guide. Guardian Media Group. 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- Information Services Division (March 2015). "UCL Style" (PDF). UCL.ac.uk. University College London. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- The news website of The Times, at TheTimes.co.uk, shows "1:45pm" format consistently as of 2017.[update] Examples: , , , ; all retrieved 9 July 2017. The Times Online Style Guide (last produced in 2011 and cited elsewhere herein) used a point in 24-hour time, and did not address 12-hour time; it is unclear whether that represents a format distinction or a change in editorial policy in the interim.
- Waddingham, Anne, ed. (2014). "11.3: Times of day". New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide (2nd ed.). Oxford U. Pr. pp. 194–195.
- Burchfield, R. W.; Fowler, H. W., eds. (2004). "a.m.". Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.). Oxford U. Pr. pp. 240, 376.
- "times". The Times Online Style Guide. News UK. 2011. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2017. Did not address 12-hour time, only 24-hour time.
- "Time". The Economist Style Guide. Economist Group. 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- Butterfield, Jeremy; Fowler, H. W., eds. (2015). "a.m." and "p.m.". Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (4th ed.). Oxford U. Pr. pp. 43, 634.
Both should always be printed lower case roman with two points and no spaces."Mention of the unpunctuated style has been removed from the "a.m." entry in this edition but remains in the "p.m." one.
- BBC Academy. "Time". BBC News Style guide. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 July 2017.