Telling Time

Decir la hora

Telling time in SpanishKnowing how to tell time is essential for traveling, meeting up with friends, making appointments, and getting to work or school on time. Once you learn these formulas, you’ll never have an excuse to be late again!

Spanish time

There are three Spanish translations for "time," each with a different meaning.

la hora time as in telling time
¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
el tiempo time as in a period of time
Pasé algún tiempo aquí. I spent some time here.
la vez time as in instance
Lo hice una vez. I did it one time.

 Only hora is needed for this lesson – when telling time, it’s equivalent to "o’clock."

Telling time in Spanish

To ask "What time is it?" you need the verb ser (to be) in the third person singular:

When answering the question, you use the singular conjugation only for one o’clock, noon, and midnight:

It’s one o’clock Es la una 01:00 h.
It’s noon Es mediodía. 12:00 h.
It’s midnight Es medianoche.. 00:00 h.

For two o’clock and up, the verb has to be plural, as does the definite article:

It's two o'clock   Son las dos. 02:00 h.
It's 3:30   Son las tres y media.
Son las tres y treinta.
03:30 h.
It's 4:15   Son las cuatro y cuarto.
Son las cuatro y quince.
04:15 h.
It's 4:45   Son las cinco menos cuarto.
Son las cinco menos quince.
Son las cuatro y cuarenta y cinco.
04:45 h.
It's 5:10   Son las cinco y diez. 05:10 h.
It's 6:50   Son las siete menos diez.
Son las seis y cincuenta.
06:50 h.
It's 7 a.m.   Son las siete de la mañana. 07:00 h.
It's 3 p.m.   Son las tres de la tarde.
Son las quince.
15:00 h.
It's 6 p.m.   Son las seis de la noche.
Son las dieciocho.
18:00 h.
It's 12 noon   Son las doce de día. 12:00 h.
It's midnight   Son las doce de la noche. 00:00 h.

 Note

Spanish doesn't have perfect equivalents for "a.m." and "p.m." You can use de la mañana for am, de la tarde from noon until 6 p.m., and de la noche from 6 p.m. until midnight, but time is usually expressed on a 24-hour clock. Thus 3pm would be translated as las quince or 15:00 h.

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Telling time in Spanish

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