Counting Times – BC & AD Explained

Have you ever wondered what BC & AD mean? How do we count time? What is the origin of BC and AD? We get these thoughts in our heads, but we do not do proper research on them. It is important to know the origin of these terms. B.C. stands for Before Christ and A.D. literally stands for Anno Domini. We designate the years by reckoning the year Jesus was born. B.C. and A.D. are used for numbering the years. There has been a change lately! Some publications have started using C.E or B.C.E. It stands for common era and before common era. It is an interesting topic for discussion. If you are looking for more information about the same, you might want to read the entire article.


BCE and BC are the same. BCE refers to Before Common Era and BC refers to Before Christ. As for Anno Domini, it is a Latin word and it literally means “In the year of the lord”. We label the years by using B.C. and A.D. but we never try to find out the reason for it. Basically, there are no zero years in this. Christ was born in the year 1 A.D. and the year preceding is 1 B.C. This is a worldwide standard.

When you read your history books, you see dates in this manner –

600 BC

2000 AD

What does it mean?

AD basically refers to AFTER JESUS was born.

BC is when Jesus did not exist.

So, 600 BC will be 600 years before Jesus was born. 2000 AD will be 2000 years after Jesus was born. This will make it clear for you to understand.

So, 2 AD will mean 1 year after Jesus was born. However, nobody knows the time when Jesus was born. It is a great mystery! Sources say that he was born in 4 BC but some have also come up with theories that he was born in 1AD.


Here is a video that will help you understand the concept.

Understand the concept in 5 minutes.

Every religion has a different calendar. When you use AD and BC, it refers to the Christian calendar. Common Era and Before Common Era terms have been used by atheists, who did not believe in limiting the years to Christ’s birth. In today’s world, people put 2016 CE and not AD 2016. Many people have a misconception that AD means After Death. It is not true! It actually refers to Anno Domini.

The whole objective of labelling years did not go a long way because there were mistakes regarding the year of birth of Jesus. The usage of CE and BCE does not have a religious connotation, which makes them more acceptable for the rest of the world. There is no concept of a zero year in the Christian calendar. 1AD is similar to 0 on a scale.


An activity was performed in which students held cards from AD and BC. In the middle, there was baby Jesus. 77 AD would be 77 years after Jesus was born, and 100 BC would mean 100 years before Jesus was born. This activity helped the students understand the concept. Understanding AC and BC is not difficult. However, people around the world prefer to use CE and BCE as they are devoid of religious connotations. We hope you understood the concept.