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Usage of AM/PM

I like the Japanese course, but the usage of AM/PM in the lesson about time makes it very hard for me. Could the words AM/PM just be omitted from the lesson? The concept of AM/PM is still very confusing to me. This is seriously holding me back.

January 9, 2018



They can't be disabled. But here's a little mnemonics I made up:

午前 - AM - ごぜん - gozen

前 looks a bit like a table, right? Think of it as a table with breakfast on it, or maybe a desk at work or at school. You go to work or eat breakfast in the morning.

Gozen is like "to go into zen mode". Early mornings are calm, "zen" ;)

午後 - PM - ごご - gogo

後 looks a bit like a bush. You can go for a walk in a park (and see bushes along the path) when you have free time - in the afternoon.

Gogo is like "go, go!" - work ends and you are free to "go!" ;)

Hope that helps you a bit, it's always useful to make up a little associations when you have trouble with particular words. Also, you probably should delete your other post because it got duplicated (404 error maybe?) and soon downvotes will probably rain on it.

PS. There are multiple words for noon and midnight, and most of them contain some "go" or "zen" inside, so not much luck there, they can't be skipped. But the more you practice and see all those little signs, the easier it will be later on :)


I came up with another mnemonic, just for the AM/PM concept, without the Japanese part:

A bit of etymology first, to understand where it all came from:

  • A.M. - from Latin "ante meridiem", "before noon"

  • P.M. - from Latin "post meridiem", "after noon"

Let's say 12.00 - noon, is the "Middle of the day"

A.M. - in Advance to the Middle of the day / or At Morning

P.M. - Past the Middle of the day / or Past Morning

Another way to remember: the letter A comes before P in the alphabet, and so AM is before PM. The day is "reset" at midnight - so midnight is 12.00 AM

Where I live both 24h and AM/PM systems are used exchangeably, but I imagine it must be an additional obstacle in learning a language to grasp that concept, not being familiar with it before. Hope that clears it up a bit :)


No offence but I'm actually surprised by this because it has never occurred to me that the 12-hour clock (the AM/PM) is NOT a universal system of time... I'm only finding out about this now.

Anyway, just to add on to MyaRexa's comment

12 AM is 12 o'clock midnight/morning, hence you use ごぜん (gozen) starting from this point until 11.59 AM (which is 11.59 in the morning)

12 PM is 12 o'clock noon, hence you use ごご (gogo) starting from this point until 11.59 PM (which is 11.59 at night).


it's the 12:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. questions that I find most worrying. EDIT: I just googled it... The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says that they have a convention that 12 a.m. means midnight. The National Physical Laboratory (UK) says there is no convention. But as this is an American site... I'll just have to learn that 12 a.m.means midnight.


This is why I'm a big fan of military time (24hr clock as opposed to 12hr clock).

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