In Quebec, you’ll want to be familiar with the 24-hour clock. If you plan on moving to Quebec or spending an extended amount of time here, consider getting used to it now.
The 24-hour clock is used here in public transport schedules, when taking appointments such as with a doctor or dentist, in TV programming, and so on. The 12-hour clock is also used, especially during regular, informal conversations, but you’ll still need to become familiar with the 24-hour clock too.
If you’ve not grown up with the 24-hour clock, I imagine it will take a little getting used to. One way to convert the time from the 24-hour system to the 12-hour system is to subtract 12: for example, 19 h – 12 = 7 p.m.
I don’t recommend this, though.
When you’re speaking in French, I think you’ll have enough going on in your mind to want to stop and do a mental calculation.
A better way is to simply accept the time in the 24-hour system for what it is. Set your clock, watch or computer to the 24-hour system now, and take note of what you’re doing at different points of the day while looking at the time.
For example, when you take your break at work in the afternoon, what time is it in the 24-hour system? 14 h? 15 h 30? When you finish work, look again at your watch. What time is it? 17 h? 18 h? What time do you get home?
If you can start to associate routine activities with different times in the 24-hour system, you won’t need to think anymore about what 19 h, 20 h or 21 h mean: an image will automatically come up in your head.
For me, I know that at…
16 h 30: In the winter, the sky may already be dark.
17 h: Many people are getting off work.
19 h – 20 h: I’m hungry and ready for supper.
22 h: I’m watching the Téléjournal.
If you’re still uncomfortable with the 24-hour system, consider implementing it in your personal life.