20060518122137-despertadorWhat about understanding when someone tells you when that all-important bus or flight is leaving? What time is check-out or check-in? In this post you will learn how to ask the time in Spanish (¿Qué hora es? = What time is it?) and how to answer that question in different ways. Let’s start! (¡Empecemos!).

In expressing time, “It is” is expressed by “Es la” (for one o’clock), and “Son las” for other hours (two o’clock, three o’clock and so on). Let’s see:

  • Es la una = It’s one o’clock.
  • Son las cuatro = It’s four o’clock.

Time past the hour (up to half past) is expressed by the hour + y, followed by the number of minutes. “Half past” is expressed by “y media”; “a quarter past” is expressed by “y cuarto”. For example:

  • Es la una y diez = It’s ten (minutes) after one. It’s 1:10 pm or 13.10.
  • Son las nueve y media = It’s half past nine. It’s 9:30 am.
  • Son las once y cuarto = It’s a quarter after eleven. It’s 11:15 am.

Instead of “media” and “cuarto”, the number of minutes may be used (treinta, quince): Son las cinco y treinta – It’s five-thirty. It’s half past five / Es la una y quince – It’s one-fifteen. It’s a quarter past one.

Alter half past, the time is expressed in terms of the following hour “menos” (minus) the minutes. For example:

  • Son las cinco menos veinte = It’s twenty minutes to five. It’s 4:40 pm or 16.40.
  • Son las siete menos cuarto = It’s a quarter to seven. It’s 6:45 pm or 18.45.

Another way to express it: using “faltar” (missing), instead of menos.

  • Faltan quince para que sean las diez = It’s fifteen minutes to ten. It’s 9:45 am.

The Spanish expression de la mañana corresponds to English “am” (in the morning): Son las seis de la mañana = It’s 6:00 am.

The expressions de la tarde(in the afternoon) and de la noche (in the evening) correspond to English “pm” while en puntomeans “sharp” or “on the dot”:

  • Son las tres de la tarde = It’s 3:00 pm (15.00 hours).
  • Son las ocho de la noche en punto – It’s 8:00 pm (exactly).

Here you have some common time expressions in Spanish:

  • ¿Qué hora es? = What time is it?
  • ¿A qué hora…? = At what time…?
  • ¿Desde qué hora…? = Since what time…?
  • Hace dos horas = Two hours ago
  • En una hora = In an hour
  • Dentro de un rato = In a while
  • A eso de las cinco/Sobre las cinco = At about five o’clock
  • Por la mañana = In the morning (am)
  • Por la tarde = In the afternoon (pm)
  • Por la noche = In the evening (pm)
  • A mediodía = At noon
  • A medianoche = At midnight
  • Es tarde = It’s late
  • Es temprano = It’s early
  • A tiempo = On time
  • En punto = exactly, sharp

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced speaker, let our Spanish lessons help take you to new levels of confidence and accuracy. Request a free trial class now!