How to Tell Time in Spanish


By the end of this post, you will be able to go around telling time in Spanish like a PRO. Telling time in Spanish is actually quite simple; it may be hard at first but you’ll get used to it. Don’t worry; we made it easier for you with the free podcast you can download below. Just follow through and listen to it over and over.

First off, download the podcast of this post here:

telling_time_in_spanish(download link) if it doesn’t work;just right click on the link then select “Save link as” then, , you know where to go from there!

There are basically two versions of time telling: one is when you say “es la una or nos las dos” basically begins with a “ser” (to be) verb. That is if the time is “actually is” meaning if you are trying to say it is 5 you use “ser” with five therefore: “nos las cinco”; nos is the plural of “es”.

telling time in spanish

The other scenario would be using the “a la”. Which  is used when you are referring to a time frame and not really trying to answer the question “what time is/was it?”.  For example “what time do go on break? And you would answer:  at 5 in the afternoon. That would look like this in Spanish: ¿A que hora es tu pausa? A las cinco de la tarde.

Personally I was more accustomed to athe “alas” version. Since back here in our country which was a Spanish colony before; people use the “alas” version even to answer the question “what time is it?” a basic reply would be “alas tres” or something like that. That is the reason why I kind of want to stress this point out since the “a las” and “nos las” versions can actually be confusing at times.

Just remember this: if you are being asked what time is/was it, you will use the “ser + time” formula. But if you are being asked “What time something is going to be” you must reply using  the “a la/las + time”  format. ¿ Ustedes lo entienden?
Bueno, vamos a estudiar ahora.

So how do they ask for the time?

 ¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)

Y las respuestas serían; And the answers would be:

1) Es la una. –It’s one o clock. (1:00)
2) Es la una y quince. –it’s one fifteen.(1:15)
3) Es la una y cuarto. –It’s one fifteen. (1:15)
4) Es la una y media. –It’s one thirty. (1:30)
5) Es la una y treinta. –It’s one thirty.(1:30)
6) Es la una menos diez. –It’s ten minutes to one. (12:50)
7) Es la una menos dos. –Its two minutes to one. (12:58)
I hope you got the idea about using: “media”, “cuarto” for quarter, and “menos”.
1) Son las dos. –It’s two o’clock. (2:00)
2) Son las tres. –It’s three o’clock. (3:00)
3) Son las cuatro y cuarto. –It’s four fifteen. (4:15)
4) Son las cinco y quince. –It’s five fifteen. (5:15)
5) Son las seis y media. –It’s six thirty. (6:30)
6) Son las siete en punto. –It’s exactly seven. (7:00)
7) Son las ocho menos veinte. –It’s seven forty. (7:40) used in the same manner as the english expression: “Its quarter to 8” (7:45).
Another tip: since you now know how to use the present “ser” (es or son) with telling time, you can also use the future tense to make you sound more like a native speaker. For example someone asks you what time is it and you know that it is going to be almost three pm but you don’t know the exact time; you can answer this with:
Bueno, serán las tres. (Well, It’s going to be three)
The same thing with one; you use the future singular: “será” Therefore: “Será la una.”
You can also use the word “casi” which means “almost”.

Therefore “Casi las ocho” (Almost eight).
There you go; we have given you a complete episode on how to tell time in Spanish. Remember to keep on practicing your newly found skills. Just practice on saying the present time in Spanish even if you are alone. You can ask yourself from time to time: “¿Que hora es?” then answer yourself “creo que serán las cinco.” (I bet it’s going to be/almost five.). Que Dios te bendiga. ¡Hasta luego!

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About the author

I go by the name of Magallanes in this blog. My mission here is to influence you folks in the most effective way to learn the Spanish language. Welcome to my fleet!