Time In Spanish

Want to tell the time in Spanish? After this free Spanish audio lesson you'll know how to talk about different times of day in Spanish and you'll get some Spanish pronunciation practice as well.

Note that tiempo is the literal Spanish word for time. However, when telling the time, hora is used.

Resources for further reading:

Asking the time in Spanish

Do you want to know what time it is? Asking the time in Spanish is simple. All you need to ask is:

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¿Qué hora es?

What time is it?

Literally, this question means: What hour is it? But we translate it as: What time is it?

If you wish to ask a stranger for the time in a more polite way, you could say;

¿Me puede decir la hora, por favor?

Can you give me the time, please?

Saying the time in Spanish

To understand the answer to this question all you need to know are the verb ser and the numbers in Spanish.

The sentence structure for telling the time is similar to English.

Son las doce y media.

It is twelve thirty.

In most cases, you will start the answer with Son las….

Por ejemplo (for example):

Son las nueve y veinticinco.

It is 9:25

Son las tres y treinta y dos.

It is 3:32

Exception at One O’Clock

Nevertheless, there is an exception. If it is only one o’clock, you will start the answer with Es la….

Es la una.

It is 1:00

That is because the verb ser must agree with the quantity of the subject, hours.

Do you know why the feminine “la” and “las” are used? (Hint: what gender is “hora”?)

International Variations

In some parts of the Spanish-speaking world, you hear the question, ¿Qué hora es? asked as ¿Qué hora son? Your answer will always begin Son las…, regardless of whether the hour that follows is singular or multiple.

Por ejemplo:

¿Qué hora son?

Son las una.

Talking about Quarter Hours and Thirty Minutes

As in English, you can also tell the time in 15- or 30-minute chunks.

  • 15 min/quarter = cuarto
  • 30 min/half = media

Por ejemplo:

Son las dos y cuarto.

It's a quarter past two.

Es la una y media

It's half past one.

You can also tell how much time remains until striking the hour. For example,

  • a quarter to… = cuarto para las…

Por ejemplo:

Es cuarto para las cuatro.

It's a quarter to four.

Son cinco para las tres.

It's five to three.

Is it Morning or Night in Spanish?

You can indicate morning or afternoon by using am and pm just as you would in English.

Alternatively, you may say;

de la mañana

in the morning

de la tarde

in the afternoon

de la noche

in the evening

Por ejemplo:

Son las diez y veintitrés de la mañana

It is 10:23am

Son las seis y cinco de la tarde

It is 6:05pm

Es cuarto para las doce de la noche

It is 11:45pm

Asking at What Time Something will Occur

When you need to ask the time that a meeting or certain activity is going to take place, you can use the phrase:

¿A qué hora...?

At what time...?

Por ejemplo:

¿A qué hora te levantaste hoy?

At what time did you get up today?

¿A qué hora comienza?

At what time does it start?

Check out Spanish Time for more useful info! Here are some recommended lessons:

See you soon! ¡Hasta pronto!

Mauricio Evlampieff: Rocket Spanish

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