A1 Level. Talking about the time in Spanish

Updated: Oct 19



To talk about the time in Spanish is very simple and is also very important. It's bad when someone tells you to be somewhere at 10 and you show up at 12 or, even worse, you show up at 10 am when they meant 10 pm. In this lesson, we will review some expressions about time and also how to talk about being late or in a hurry.


Telling Time

In order to tell time, Spanish always uses the third - person singular or plural of ser. The most common way to tell time in Spanish is the analog format. Hours in analog format use cardinal numbers from 0 to 12 and take half of the dial as a reference. La represents la hora, and las represents las horas.


1. To tell the hour (Except for times around one o'clock), use the following pattern:

Son + las + number from two to twelve (+ number of minutes)

Ex. Son las siete It's 7:00


Son + las + number from two to twelve (+ y + number of minutes)

Son las ocho y veinticinco. It's 8:25

Son las ocho y media. It's 8:30


Son + las + number from two to twelve (+ con + number of minutes)

Son las ocho con veinticinco minutos. It's 8:25

Son las once con treinta minutos. It's 11:30


2. For times including 1:00, use

es + la + una (+ number of minutes)

Ex. Es la una. It's 1:00


es + la + una (+ y + number of minutes)

Ex. Es la una y veinte. It's 1:20


es + la + una (+ con + number of minutes)

Ex. Es la una con veinte minutos. It's 1:20For times before the hour, say

3. Es la una menos veinte. It's 20 minutes to 1.

Son las doce menos cuarto. It's a quarter to 12.

Son las ocho menos diez. It's 10 minutes to 8.


4. To indicate A.M and P.M or «de la mañana/tarde/noche/madrugada» in Spanish, you use the following expressions.

- de la madrugada (midnight): de 1 a 6 horas.

Ex. Es la 1:00 de la madrugada


- de la mañana: de 6 a 12 horas.

Ex: Son las ocho de la mañana. It's 8:00 am


- del mediodía: a las 12.

Ex: Son las doce del mediodía. It's noon

Es mediodía. It's noon


-de la tarde: de 13 a 20 horas.

Ex: Son las tres de la tarde. It's 3:00 pm


-de la noche: de 20 a 24 horas.

Ex: Son las once de la noche. It's 11:00 pm


5. To indicate the exact hour or "sharp", Spanish uses exactamente or en punto.

Ex: Son las cinco exactamente. It's exactly five o'clock

Son las diez en punto. It's ten o' clock sharp.


6.To indicate an approximate time, Spanish uses a eso de + the hour or the hour + más o menos.

Ex: Es a eso de la una. It's about one o'clock.

Es la una, más o menos. It's one o'clock, more or less.



Ask the time

The most common question to ask the time is: ¿Qué hora es? What time is it?. The question "¿Qué hora es? " Is always formulated in the singular. The answer can be singular if it is the one or plural in the rest of the cases. The definite article is used before the hour. Also you can use de verb tener

Ex. ¿Tienes hora?

¿Qué hora tienes?


To ask and tell at what time something (such as a party) takes place you say:

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

If you are going to ask the time for a stranger or someone on the street, it is more courteous to ask:

- Perdone, ¿me puede decir la hora por favor? Can you tell me the time, please?

- Disculpe, ¿Tiene usted hora? Can you tell me the time, please?


Let's see some example

Talking about being late or in a hurry

To tell someone you are late, say:

- Estoy atrasada (if you are a female).

- Estoy atrasado (if you are a male)


To tell someone you are in a hurry, say:

- Tengo prisa.


To say that someone else is late, say:

- Está atrasada (if the person is female).

- Está atrasado (if the person is male)


To tell a friend to hurry up, say:

- ¡Date prisa!.

- ¡Apúrate!.

- ¡Córrele!.

Let's practice


Listening Activity No. 1: The time/hours in Spanish

Here you have a video that will help you to understand and it will show you how to say and ask the time in Spanish. Watch the video as many time as you need, after that practice what you have learned with the quiz below. Remember you can contact your tutor for any question you have about say and asking the time in Spanish. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?


Quiz Activity No. 2: ¿Qué hora es cuando...?

Time to work with our quiz. Remember, practice is the key to learn to speak Spanish.

Handout Activity No. 3: Handout for you to practice

Download any time and enjoy it. Remember, practice is the key to learn to speak Spanish.

¡Hasta la vista!

The Español Latino Team.

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