Expressing Time

 When faced with an original text in another language, we translators usually tend to copy the same format to express time.

For example, if in an original Spanish document we have “9 de la mañana” [lit. “9 in the morning”] or “9 a. m.,” in English we can translate “9:00 am” or “9 AM.”

Why Is the Correct Spanish Abbreviation of “a. m.” Separated and With a Period After Each Letter?

As we’ve already explained in our article about the correct Spanish abbreviation of the United States (EE. UU.), I return to the topic of abbreviations because “a. m.” is, in reality, the abbreviation of “ante meridiem,” a Latin expression that means before noon, and “p. m.” is the abbreviation of “post meridiem,” a Latin expression that means after noon.

How Are “Hours,” “Minutes,” and “Seconds” Expressed?

Typically, we see the abbreviations: “hr,” “min,” and “sec.” We would translate those “hr.,” “min.,” and “seg.” in Spanish.

In Spanish, however, the correct symbols are “h,” “min,” and “s.” For example, “The operation began at ‘10 h, 9 min y 30 s.’”

Why Do “a. m.” and “p. m.” Have A Period While “h,” “min,” and “s” Do Not?

Because “a. m.” and “p. m.” are abbreviations and “h,” “min,” and “s” are symbols. Abbreviations have periods; symbols do not.

In your opinion, which abbreviations or symbols are the most difficult to remember?