How To Tell Time in Spanish: Hours on the Clock and More
Master the clock with the ultimate guide to telling time in Spanish!
This guide is perfect for learning how to tell the time in Spanish for beginners. I break downtime words, phrases, and vocabulary into palatable bite-sized pieces. I also provide lots of detailed explanations and conversation examples so that you talk about time like a native speaker. By the end of this post, you’ll even be able to name the parts of the clock in Spanish!
Are you ready? It’s time to get started!
How To Say Time in Spanish
It’s important to go over the basics and start out with the word “time”. There is no single way to say “time” in Spanish! Here are some of the most common words for “time” in Spanish that you might come across.
1. Past, Present, Future (El tiempo)
Anytime you want to reference time in general el tiempo is the best word to use. This word talks about time itself: the past, present, and future.
La nave espacial podría viajar en el tiempo.
The spaceship could travel through time.
2. The Hour (La hora)
La hora gets a little bit more specific. This is a way to talk about a certain hour of time. It’s most often used to ask “what time is it?”
¿Qué hora es?
What time is it?
3. The Occasion (La vez)
La vez talks about a certain occasion of time. For example, “the first time” and “the last time” are both used with la vez in Spanish.
Es la primera vez que voy a España.
This is the first time I’ve been to Spain.
4. The Moment (El momento)
El momento is used just like the English “moment”. It talks about a shorter period of time and gets even more specific.
En este momento, el estudiante debe llegar para el examen.
At this time, the student should arrive for the exam.
5. Era (La época)
An era of time is a period of time in history that is identified by cultural or historical factors. This period of time is much longer than the others and can last for centuries.
La época romana duró varios siglos.
The Roman era lasted several centuries.
6. Period (El tiempo)
All other periods of time are translated as el tiempo. This is the most generic way to say time in Spanish and can be very versatile.
No hay mucho tiempo antes del eclipse.
There isn’t much time before the eclipse.
Spanish Time Vocabulary
There are a few key vocabulary words that are essential for telling time in Spanish.
Parts of the Clock in Spanish
You can’t tell the time in Spanish without clocks! These are an important part of learning Spanish hours and minutes. Here are the most important clock words to know.
1. Hours (Las Horas)
This is probably the most obvious part of the clock. The big bold numbers are the first thing that catch your eye when you look up for the time.
2. Minute Lines (Las líneas de los minutos)
These are the super small lines that go in between the big hour numbers. They help you pinpoint the exact minute of time on the clock.
3. Hour Hand (El horario)
The hour hand is the thickest and shortest arrow on the clock. Just as its name indicates, it points out the hour on the clock.
4. Minute Hand (El minutero)
The minute hand is longer than the hour hand. Again, the name tells you exactly what this hand is used for — telling the minutes!
5. Second Hand (El segundero)
Not all clocks have a second hand but the most precise ones do. This hand is usually long and very skinny. It moves rapidly as it must constantly keep up with the changing seconds for accuracy.
How To Tell Someone the Time in Spanish
Now that you know the most common time words in Spanish you can learn how to use them.
Get ready to learn how to tell the time in Spanish!
Telling Time on the Exact Hour
The first step in learning to tell time in Spanish is understanding how to talk about an exact hour.
Expressing time in Spanish is different from how you talk about time in English. Spanish uses the plural third-person form of the verb ser when talking about time. This is because Spanish hours are always feminine.
The number, or hour, is always preferenced with the plural feminine definite article (las). This is because it’s referring to the word hora, which is feminine.
Let’s look at some examples!
Son las dos.
It’s two o’clock.
Son las tres.
It’s three o’clock.
Son las cuatro.
It’s four o’clock.
Son las cinco.
It’s five o’clock.
Do you see the pattern? Telling time on the hour is super easy! An important note to remember though: one o’clock is an exception to this rule! Instead of the plural form, one uses the singular form of ser since it is only one hour.
Es la una.
It’s one o’clock.
Telling Time off of the Hour
Realistically, the time isn’t usually right at the hour. When you look at the clock, its hands are probably somewhere in between the hours. Luckily, Spanish has a few common phrases that solve this problem.
- half past — y media
- quarter past — y cuarto
- a quarter until the hour — menos cuarto
Son las dos y media.
Es la una y cuarto.
It’s one fifteen.
Son las seis menos cuarto.
It’s a quarter until six.
Adding the Minutes
Need to be even more specific? You can also add the exact number of minutes past the hour. It’s incredibly simple, just follow the formula below!
es/son + las + hour + number of minutes
Son las cuatro veintinueve.
It’s four twenty-nine
Son las siete cuarenta y ocho.
It’s seven forty-eight.
This how to tell the time in Spanish video goes over this same information in a fun visual format!
How To Discuss Time in Spanish
Here are some great examples of time questions and answers that you might receive.
How To Ask for the Time
¿Qué hora es?
What time is it?
¿A qué hora empieza?
At what hour does it start?
¿A qué hora vas a levantar?
At what hour will you get up?
How To Respond
Es la una y cuarto.
It’s one fifteen.
A la una.
A las cinco.
Here’s a list of useful time phrases in Spanish that will help your sentences flow together naturally. For an extra telling time in Spanish practice, check out these time expressions that will further deepen your language skills.
Time Phrases in Spanish Part 1
|at midnight||a la medianoche|
|at noon||al mediodía|
|during the day||durante el día|
|every other week||semana por medio|
|exactly or sharp||en punto|
|in the afternoon||por la tarde|
|in the afternoon||de la tarde|
|in the evening or night||por la noche|
|in the evening or night||de la noche|
|in the morning||por la mañana|
|last Monday||el lunes pasado|
|last week||la semana pasada|
|last year||el año pasado|
Time Phrases in Spanish Part 2
|morning or tomorrow||la mañana|
|next Monday||last el lunes que viene|
|next week||la semana que viene|
|next year||el año que viene|
|the day after tomorrow||pasado mañana|
|the day before yesterday||anteayer|
|the night before||la noche anterior, anteanoche|
|tomorrow morning||mañana por la mañana|
It’s Time to Level-Up Your Spanish
Great job telling time in Spanish! When you start learning Spanish, you’re setting yourself up for future success. With over 53 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. alone, there are thousands of ways for you to use your language skills. From increased job opportunities to keeping your mind sharper for longer, it helps to know a second language.
Learning how to tell the time in Spanish is a huge step forward on your language journey! However, consistent practice with a native-speaking teacher is the best way to achieve fluency. That’s why homeschool Spanish Academy offers personalized lessons with our certified teachers from Guatemala. We offer flexible scheduling and personalized lesson plans to suit all of your language learning needs. Try out a free class today!
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