“¿Qué hora es?”. Lots of students struggle saying the time in Spanish and fail to answer this question correctly.
Knowing how to say the time in Spanish is a quick and easy way to increase your vocabulary and sound like an advanced speaker.
In this article, you’ll learn the most common phrases for expressing times of day quickly and accurately.
Saying the Time of Day in Spanish.
In Spanish, the time of day is usually expressed using the terms “la mañana” (morning), “la tarde” (afternoon) and “la noche” (night). See examples below:
- 10 am: Son las diez de la mañana.
- 3 pm: Son las tres de la tarde.
- 10 pm: Son las diez de la noche.
Telling the time in Spanish using the articles la and las
You may have noticed in the previous examples that we use the articles “la” and “las” before the time of day and the hour. That ‘s because “mañana”, “tarde”, “noche” and “hora” are all feminine words in Spanish. See more examples:
- ¿Qué hora es? Es la una. (“Uno” becomes “una”, it is the only number that does this).
- ¿Qué hora es? Son las dos.
- ¿Qué hora es? Son las tres.
When talking about past or future times, simply add antes or después, respectively. For example «antes de las 6:00» (before 6:00) or «después de las 6:00» (after 6:00).
Knowing the Basics: Numbers and Phrases.
Knowing and understanding the basics when it comes to saying the time in Spanish is essential for having a conversation and expressing times accurately.
Firstly, familiarize yourself with common Spanish numbers from 0 to 60 (anywhere from zero “cero” up to sixty “sesenta”).
Also, take into consideration the phrases you can use for expressing the time. These include «es la una» using the verb “es” (third person singular of ser) followed by “la” for specific times that start with number one.
- 12:45 am: Es la una menos cuarto de la mañana.
- 1:00 am: Es la una de la mañana.
- 1:05 am: Es la una y cinco de la mañana.
For all the other hours that don’t start with number one, say “son” (third person plural of ser) followed by “las” in plural as well.
- 8:20 am: Son las ocho y veinte de la mañana.
- 6:30 pm: Son las seis y media de la tarde.
- 10:35 pm: Son las once menos veinticinco de la noche.
O’clock Versus Other Times of Day.
When it comes to stating the time, it is important to understand the difference between saying o’clock times versus other times of day.
Two ways of saying an o’clock time are:
- 2:00. Son las dos en punto.
- 2:00. Son las dos.
Half past in Spanish:
- 5:30. Son las cinco y media.
A quarter past in Spanish:
- 4:15. Son las cuatro y cuarto.
Quarter to in Spanish:
- 1:45. Son las dos menos cuarto.
Therefore, for the minutes on the left side of the clock we use “menos” and for the minutes on the right side of the clock, “y”. See more examples:
- 3:06: Son las tres y seis.
- 7:50: Son las ocho menos diez.
How to Say the Time in Spanish if I Don’t Understand the Analogue Clock
It is more common nowadays that people don’t understand the analogue clock because they prefer the digital one. However, this shouldn’t be a problem for you to tell the time in Spanish.
You can also say the time just as you see it on the digital watch. This is why I recommend studying basic Spanish numbers from 0 cero to 60 sesenta. Look:
- 5:57: Son las cinco (y) cincuenta y siete (minutos).
- 7:45: Son las siete (y) cuarenta y cinco (minutos).
- 10:38: Son las diez (y) treinta y ocho (minutos).
Spanish Expressions of Time.
I’d like to finish this blog post with some funny Spanish expressions of time.
- El tiempo vuela. (Time flies/goes by fast).
- Dale tiempo al tiempo. (Give time to time, meaning be patient).
- Ya era hora. (It was about time!)
- Hace mil horas. (We say this when we’ve been waiting for something for a long time). An example: Hace mil horas estoy esperando a que salgas del baño, Raúl.
- No dar ni la hora. (When someone shows no interest in you, you can say “No me dio ni la hora” meaning the person didn’t even tell you the time).
The easiest ways of saying the time in Spanish are including the articles la and las, using the verb ser, learning the words “mañana”, “tarde”, “noche” and don’t forget how to use the words “menos”, “y”, “en punto” e “y media”.
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