How To Tell The Time In Spanish & 30+ Useful Terms

Tell the time in Spanish

What time is it, you ask? Well, it is time to learn how to answer this question in perfect Spanish! Read this article to the end and learn how to tell the time in Spanish.

The phrase ¿Que hora es? is a question that might be directed to you if you’re wandering the streets of Barcelona. It is a question that you’ll probably encounter at some point during your trip, so how do you reply to it?

I actually learned the hard way how to respond to it as I was forced to walk around Barcelona for a whole day without a phone. I had forgotten to charge it during the night, and that day I had lunch with a friend and a meeting during the afternoon. My solution? I went around the whole day asking strangers for the time to ensure I didn’t miss any of my appointments. And you know what? I got a few weird looks. As usual, people don’t ask for the time anymore, but I’m glad I knew how to ask for it!

From this day on, I never went to a new country without knowing how to ask and tell the time in that language. You may call it a pet peeve. I just called it “being prepared,” and it has been proven over the years that it has been very useful.

So, ready to learn how to tell the time in Spanish?

How To Ask For The Time In Spanish

Que hora es

Let’s first learn how to ask for the time, and then we’ll head to how to respond to it. The question in Spanish is super easy. You ask, “What time is it?” which in Spanish translates to ¿Que hora es? If you go around asking this, you’ll undoubtedly get the information you need, so you won’t get late to head back home and see the Spanish soap opera you’ve been following.

Besides this question, you can also ask more informally ¿tiene hora?, which literally translates to “Do you have the time?” In English. Fairly speaking, this second option is usually used more than the first one.

How To Tell The Time In Spanish

Before knowing how to answer the question, let’s have a look at some basic knowledge about time in Spanish. 

The first thing you need to remember is that Spanish people use the verb ser to tell time. Time is something that is happening, so this is the verb we use. To conjugate this, only the first hour is told with Es (is – first person). The remaining hours are conveyed with Son (are – third person). So, for example, one o’clock is Es la una (It’s one o’clock), while 3 o’clock is Son las tres (It’s three o’clock).

Before every hour, the article (la/las) connects the verb with the noun. This small word is used because the time in Spanish is called La hora. As you can see, it is pretty straightforward. Things only get complicated if you want to use the 24h clock instead of 12h. So imagine you want to say, “it’s 4 PM” you can either say Son las cuatro if you’re using the 12h clock or Son las dieciséis. If you want to use the 12h clock, you can also add de la mañana or de la tarde to say “in the morning” or “in the afternoon,” respectfully.

I mean, it is a bit harder, but not so incredibly hard that you should give up right now. It just requires a bit more study on your part. You can start now by going to our blog post about counting in Spanish or simply start learning Spanish with us.

Complete The Time With Minutes In Spanish

Let’s now look at how to say the minutes in Spanish. If the time you want to say is not right by the hour, you may want to complete it with the minutes.

There are three different ways you can say the time in Spanish:

  1. es/son + las + hour + number of minutes
  2. es/son + las + hour + y + number of minutes 
  3. es/son + las + hour + con + number of minutes

Thus, if you want to say it is 8:22AM you can use any of these three different ways:

  1. Son las ocho veintidós
  2. Son las ocho y veintidós
  3. Son las ocho con veintidós

Any of these options are suitable to be used if you want to say the time in Spanish.

Understanding Quarter Past, Half Past, And Quarter To

9:30 in Spanish

To complete our knowledge of Spanish time, we need to understand now how to say “Quarter Past,” “Quarter to,” and “Half Past” in this Latin language. And for this, you only need to know two more words: media (half) and cuarto (quarter).

The rules to use these words couldn’t be simpler:

  • If it’s half past the hour in Spanish, use the phrase y media.
  • If it’s a quarter past the hour, use the phrase y cuarto.
  • If it’s a quarter until the hour, use the phrase menos cuarto.

So, for example, to say the time 9:30h, you’d say Son las nueve y media (It’s nine thirty). For the quarter you’d say Son las diez y cuarto for 10:15h and Son las cinco menus cuarto for 4:45h.

Other Words Related To Time

To add to this, there is some more vocabulary that you can learn to enrich your knowledge about time. Let’s explore a few of these.

MadrugadaIn the middle of the night
MañanaIn the morning
TardeIn the afternoon
En puntoExactly
AnteayerThe day before yesterday
AnocheLast night
AnteanocheThe night before
Por la nocheIn the evening or night
La mañanaMorning or tomorrow

It’s Time To Learn Spanish

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Know that you’ve learned all about time, it’s time to learn even more about Spanish (see what I did there? Haha). Jokes aside, if you’re interested in learning more about this beautiful language, then I have the perfect place where you can invest in your education!

Let me introduce you to my friendly monkey Ling. He is the mascot of our fantastic learning language app, Ling, which will help you master Spanish in a blink of an eye. This fantastic app is filled with relevant and exciting content that is presented to you fun and interactive, giving you the most effective and engaging way to learn a new language.

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