The Time in Spanish  

Discussing Time Telling Time Talking about Time

What time is it in Spanish?

Few things are more important than the ability to tell time in Spanish. You will use a different verb to tell time in Spanish than you would use to tell time in English. The verb ser is used to ask or tell time in Spanish. A few examples:

¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

Es la una. - It's one o'clock.

Son las dos. - It's two o'clock.

Son las doce. - It's twelve o'clock.

Note: The plural form (son) is used for two o'clock through twelve.

Sentences about time

Instead of saying 15 minutes, cuarto is generally used. Media is used instead of 30 minutes.

Es la una y cuarto.
     It is one-fifteen (1:15).

A la una y media.
     At one-thirty (1:30).

Note: Minutes up to half an hour are added to the hour using y; above that, they are typically subtracted from the hour with menos.

Son las cinco y diez.
     It's ten after five.

Son las tres menos cuarto.
     It's two forty-five (2:45).

Son las tres menos diez.
     It's ten till three (2:50).

telling time in Spanish

Telling time in Spanish and English do have some similarities. As with English, noon and midnight have special terms in Spanish.

Es medianoche. - It's midnight.

Es la medianoche. - It's midnight.

a la medianoche - at midnight

Ellos toman el bus de la medianoche.
     They take the midnight bus.

al mediodía - at noon

Eso es temprano. Yo me levanto al mediodía.
     That's early. I get up at noon.

Note: To indicate the time at which something occurs, the preposition "a" is used:

El tren llega a las tres y media.
     The train arrives at three-thirty (3:30).

El avión llega a las tres.
     The plane arrives at 3 o'clock (3:00)

Note: The phrase "it is time to" is translated as es hora de plus the infinitive:

Es hora de comer.
     It's time to eat.

Es hora de dormir.
     It is bed time.

Note: The imperfect tense is used to talk about Spanish time in the past.

Eran las cinco de la tarde.
     It was five in the afternoon.

Eran las cuatro cuando llegamos.
     It was four o’clock when we arrived.

Eran las once de la noche.
     It was 11:00 in the evening.

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