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How to tell time in Spanish

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How to tell time in Spanish: hours

As a general rule, use ser to tell time in Spanish, as well as for the question itself:

¿Qué hora es? What time is it?

The answer to this question can be:

Son las diez.    It’s ten.

Did you notice that we use the plural son and the article las? This is because the word horas [hours] is implicit: Son las diez (horas)!

REMINDER: It is las because horas is a feminine plural noun.

 

 

 

Your turn now: How would you say “It’s two?” The answer is:

Son las dos.    It’s two.

And a tricky one: How would you say “It’s one”?

Es la una.        It’s one.

Why es and la? Because this time the implicit word is hora: Es la una (hora)!

Use Es la… for “one (o’clock)”; Use Son las… for all the other hours.

 

⤷TIP: you can use the phrase en punto to say “o’clock”!

How to tell time in Spanish: minutes

In English, there are two ways to tell the time in minutes: You can read 2:10 as “two ten” or “ten past two.” In Spanish there are three:

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.33.32 AM

How to tell time in Spanish: half and quarter hours

In English for 5:30 you can say, “It’s half past five” or “It’s five thirty.” 
Same in Spanish!

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.34.19 AM


Quarter past:
Two ways in English — two ways in Spanish!

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.34.33 AM

How to say phrases like “It’s a quarter to…” in Spanish

You can continue the formula “hour + minutes” or use menos to subtract minutes from the next hour. For example, to say 6:45, you say:

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.34.46 AM


In some countries, you may hear para instead of menos. The formula is a bit different in this case: minutes + para + hour. Watch the verb as well!

Es / son quince para las ocho.      It’s five to eight.

Es / son cuarto para las ocho.      It’s a quarter to eight.

How to distinguish AM and PM in Spanish

Here are some useful phrases:

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.34.00 AM

How to talk about specific events?

Quite interestingly, while in English you would say, “What time is the party?” or “What time does the train arrive?” when you talk about when an event is taking place, you need to say ¿A qué hora es/son…? (At what time is/are…?)

¿A qué hora es la fiesta?      What time is the party?

¿A qué hora llega el tren?    What time does the train arrive?

 

To answer these questions, you use the formula: a la/las + time. For example:

Es a las tres en punto.          It is at three o’clock.

Llega a la una.                      It arrives at one.

Ready to practice?

    

1._________________    2.______________        3.____________

 



4.____________         5.______________      6.________________



KEY

  1. Son las seis cuarenta cinco; Son las siete menos cuarto; Es / son cuarto para las siete.

  2. Son las cuatro treinta cinco; Son las cinco menos veinticinco.

  3. Son las cuatro treinta; Son las cuatro y media.

  4. Son las dos menos cinco; Es la una cincuenta cinco.

  5. Es la una (en punto).

  6. Son las diez diez; Son las diez y diez; Son las diez con diez.

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