Spanish phrasebook: How to tell the time

Spanish phrasebook – Phrases in Spanish with audio

How to tell the time

Contents: Video and audio for learning Spanish

What time is it? You’ll be able to answer that in no time. There are several ways to tell the time across Spanish-speaking countries. We will focus on the most common option in Spain.

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How to ask “What time is it?”

Below you find two common options of asking for the time in Spanish:

¿Qué hora es?
What time is it?

¿Me podría decir la hora?
Could you tell me what time it is?

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Telling the hour

As “la hora” (the hour) is feminine, we say either “es la” or “son las” plus the number up to 12.

Es la una.
It’s one o’clock.
This is the only hour used with “es”, the third person singular form of “ser” (to be).

Son las dos.
It’s two o’clock.
From two onwards the plural is used: Son las tres, son las siete etc.

Spanish focus
a.m. and p.m. in Spanish


In order to specify whether the hour you say is a.m. or p.m., in Spanish you add the following: a.m. – midnight until about 5 a.m.: madrugada Las cinco de la madrugada (=5 a.m.) – 6 a.m. until 12 noon: mañana las once de la mañana (=11 a.m.) – 12 noon (in some parts of Spain until 1.30 p.m.): mediodía las doce del mediodía (=12 noon) p.m. – 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. (in some areas until 8pm): tarde las dos de la tarde (=2 p.m.) – 8 p.m. until midnight: noche las nueve de la noche (9 p.m.) In Latin America, a.m. and p.m. are also used.

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Telling the minutes

This is as easy as telling the hour and adding “y” or “menos” plus the number of minutes. If you don’t know yet how to count in Spanish, visit our section on numbers.

Son las cinco y viente.
It’s twenty past five.

Es la una y treinta y dos.
It’s 32 minutes past one.

Es la una menos diez.
It’s ten to one.

Son las doce menos cinco.
It’s five to twelve.

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Half and quarter

Simply add the following to the hour: To say “half past” you add “y media”, to say “quarter to” you add “menos cuarto” and to say “quarter past” you add “y cuarto”.

Son las once y media.
It’s half past eleven.

Es la una y cuarto.
It’s quarter past one.

Son las siete menos cuarto.
It’s quarter to seven.

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Other Useful Expressions

Now let’s see how to ask “At what time?” in Spanish. You’ll also learn other time expressions that come in handy.

¿A que hora empieza el espectáculo?
At what time does the show start?

El espectáculo empieza a las nueve.
The show starts at nine.

Son las siete de la mañana.
It’s eight a.m..

Son las siete de la tarde.
It’s eight p.m..

Son las once de la noche.
It’s eleven p.m..

madrugada
early morning

mediodía
midday

medianoche
midnight

en punto
on the dot

más o menos
around

y pico
a little after

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