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Telling Time in Spanish

Telling time in Spanish starts with the simple question, "¿Qué hora es?" As you might guess, this means, "What time is it?" (Or more literally, "What hour is it?") This lesson will cover all the other basic words and phrases you need.

Let's start with the most basic questions about time.

Examples:

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
Son las siete. (It's seven o'clock.)

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
Son las ocho. (It's eight o'clock)

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
Son las nueve. (It's nine o'clock.)

To indicate minutes after the hour you can use "y" (and).

Examples:

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
Son las diez y cinco. (It's five after ten.)
(Notice that in English you say "five after ten", we say "ten and five")

¿Qué hora es?
Son las once y diez. (It's ten after eleven.)
(Notice that in English you say "ten after eleven", and we say "eleven and ten")

¿Qué hora es?
Son las once y quince. (It's eleven-fifteen.)

¿Qué hora es?
Son las once y treinta. (It's eleven-thirty.)

Other ways to indicate how many minutes after the hour are to use "y cuarto" (quarter after), or "y media" (half past).

Examples:

¿Qué hora es?
Son las doce y cuarto. (It's eleven-fifteen), (It's quarter after eleven.)

¿Qué hora es?
Son las doce y media. (It's eleven-thirty), (It's half past eleven.)

To indicate how many minutes before the hour use "menos" (minus), "para" (to, before), or "cuarto para" (quarter to, before)

Examples:

¿Qué hora es?
Son las dos menos quince. (It's two minus fifteen - quarter to two.)

¿Qué hora es?
Son quince para las dos. (It's fifteen before two - quarter to two.)

¿Qué hora es?
Son cuarto para las dos. (It's quarter to two.)

We use the question ¿A qué hora es...? when we want to know "at what time" an event happens.

Examples:

¿A qué hora es el partido de fútbol? (What time is the soccer game?)
El partido es a las tres y media. (The game is at three-thirty.)

¿A qué hora es la película? (What time is the movie?)
La película es a las cuatro y veinte. (The movie is at four-twenty.)

¿A qué hora es la fiesta? (What time is the party?)
A las cinco. (At six o'clock)

¿A qué hora es la cena con tu familia? (What time is the dinner with your family?)
A las seis y quince. (At fifteen after six.)

Note 1: When we ask what time it is we use es (the singular form of verb ser) .

Note 2: When we answer, the answer begins with son, except when we tell the time from one to one-fifty-nine. Example:

¿Qué hora es?
Es la una. (It's one o'clock.)

¿Qué hora es?
Es la una y veinte. (It's one-twenty.)

¿Qué hora es?
Es la una y cincuenta y nueve. (It's one-fifty-nine).

Note 3: Did you notice that we use la or las (feminine articles) before the time. It is because we are refering to the hour or hours (hora, horas) and these are feminine in Spanish.

Idioms for Telling Time in Spanish

¿Qué hora tiene? (What time do you have? or What time is it?)
Disculpe, ¿qué hora tiene? (Excuse me, what time is it?)
Oye, ¿qué hora es? (Hey, what time is it?)
Es medianoche. (It's midnight.)
Es mediodía. (It's noon.)
Son las ocho en punto. (It's exactly eight.), (It's eight o'clock.)
Son las tres en punto. (It's exactly three.), (It's three o'clock.)
Son las dos y media más o menos. ( It's about 2:30.)
Son las cinco y quince más o menos. ( It's about 5:15.)
Más o menos. (More or less.)
Salimos a las cuatro. (We are leaving at 4:00.)
Salimos a las siete de la mañana. (We are leaving at 7:00 in the morning.)
Regresamos a las diez de la noche. (We are coming back at 10:00 at night.)
Regresamos al mediodía. (We are coming back at noon.)

You should be ready for telling time in Spanish now. If not, refer back to this lesson a few times and practice the words and phrases here.

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