Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A.M. and P.M. for ESL Students

...and everyone else.

A question that came up with one of my ESL writing students was how to write the time when using "a.m" or "p.m." In my experience, I've seen (and used), for example, "9am", "9 am", "9a.m.", and "9 a.m." Everyone understands what time you are referring to if you use any of these.

However, for formal writing, there are two correct ways: 9 a.m. and 9 A.M. There is a space between the numbers, periods between "a" and "m"' but no spaces between the two letters. This is according to Longman Advanced American Dictionary, my favorite ESL dictionary.

Incidentally, "a.m" is an abbreviation for "ante meridiem," meaning "before noon." "P.M." is an abbreviatin for "post meridiem," meaning "after noon."


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