How to Tell Time in Spanish

Опубликовал Admin
9-07-2021, 15:30
Knowing how to tell the time in Spanish can help you ace your Spanish test and look like a native when you're visiting a Spanish-speaking country. Telling the time in Spanish is easy once you've mastered the verb ser ("to be") and learn a few tricks. If you want to know how to tell time in Spanish, just follow these steps.

Learn the Basics

  1. Understand how to use the verb "ser" when telling time. Ser is a verb that means "to be" and it's the only verb you'll need to tell the time. The two forms of ser are the plural form, son las ("they are") and the singular form, es la ("it is"). Only use es la when the hour is one o' clock. Use son las for all other times of day. For example:
    • Son las dos. It's two o'clock.
    • Es la una. It's one o'clock.
  2. Tell the time using whole hours. Before telling the time fully, you should learn how to tell the time just using hours. Simply say es la una to indicate that it's one o'clock, and use son las followed the number associated with any hour other than one to say the time. Here are some examples:
    • Son las cuatro. It's four o'clock.
    • Son las cinco. It's five o'clock.
    • Son las seis. It's six o'clock.
    • Son las siete. It's seven o'clock.
    • Son las once. It's eleven o'clock.
  3. Learn how to indicate if it's midnight or noon. Midnight and noon are whole hours, but you should say that it's midnight or noon using a slightly different method. Here's how to do it:
    • Es mediodía. It's noon.
    • Es medianoche. It's midnight.
  4. Tell the time using hours and minutes. Telling the time in Spanish using minutes and hours is a bit trickier than in English. To tell the time in Spanish, you'll never need to use a number higher than 29. Here are the two methods you need to know:
    • To tell the time in the first half hour, simply state the correct form of ser followed by the hour, followed by y ("and") and the number of minutes. Here are some examples:
      • Son las siete y seis. It's 7:06.
      • Son las diez y veinte. It's 10:20.
      • Son las once y diez. It's 11:10.
      • Just remember one exception: if you're indicating that it's the half hour, then don't say treinta ("thirty") but say media ("half") instead. For example: Son las dos y media. It's 2:30.
    • To tell the time in the second half hour, you'll have to first state the correct form of ser followed by the next hour, followed by menos (minus) and the amount of minutes remaining until the following hour. Here are some examples:
      • Son las nueve menos cinco. It's 8:55.
      • Son las once menos veinte. It's 10:40.
      • Es la una menos veinticinco. It's 12:35.
      • Son las tres menos cuarto. It's 2:45. Note that you should say cuarto ("a quarter") instead of quince ("fifteen").

Learn Additional Skills

  1. Learn to indicate whether the time is AM or PM. Spanish speakers usually don't say AM or PM, but rather use the words for morning (manana), afternoon (tarde), and night or evening (noche). Here's how to tell the time while indicating whether it's morning, afternoon, or evening:
    • Es la una de la mañana. It's one o'clock in the morning.
    • Son las seis de la noche. It's six o'clock in the evening.
    • Son las cuatro de la tarde. It's four o'clock in the afternoon.
  2. Learn a few additional useful phrases. Even after you know exactly how to tell the time in Spanish, you can always improve your skills by learning a few basic phrases. Here are a few:
    • Son las cinco más o menos. It's about five o'clock.
    • Es la una en punto. It's exactly one o'clock.
    • ¿Qué hora es? What time is it?



  • In Latin America, sometimes they say "Son las cinco y cincuenta y cinco," instead of subtracting from the next hour.
  • 11 pm = son las once de la noche.
  • 3 am = son las tres de la mañana.
  • 6 pm = son las seis de la tarde.
  • In the Americas, it's uncommon to subtract down when telling time between the minutes of 31 and 59.It's very simple really. Instead of "son las diez menos veinte" you just say "son las nueve y cuarenta."
  • In Mexico it is more common to ask ¿Qué horas son? but the correct spelling and complete pronunciation is actually ¿A qué horas son?However, this is an incorrect grammatical concept...similar to y'all in the Southeastern U.S.y'all is the correct spelling, but this is not proper English.In Costa Rica and other Latin American countries it is common to hear ¿Qué hora es?Still, you may hear: ¿Qué hora llevas?,¿ Qué hora tienes ?, ¿Tienes (la) hora?, ¿A qué hora es ______ (talking about an event)?
  • In conversation if someone asks you for the time you can simply say the numbers on the clock "nueve veinte" or "nueve y veinte" or "nueve con veinte."It all depends from country to country.
  • You can also add a modifier (in the morning, in the afternoon, at night).Simply tack on "por la manana", "a la tarde" or "por la noche". In Spain the preposition " de " is the common formin the previous expressions:
  • Don't let your Spanish teacher or textbook trap the class in a tradition that isn't relevant to the real world.It's good to learn the concept of adding and subtracting time for the sole purpose of being aware, but it is unnecessary.In Latin America you could confuse people by adding and subtracting time.It sounds robotic, like referring to Smith as a "surname" instead of a "last name" or saying you have a "davenport" in your living room instead of a "couch" or "sofa."
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