Asking and Telling the Time in Spanish: The Ultimate Guide

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telling the time in Spanish
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Learn How to Say the Time and Ask for the Time in Spanish

Never be late again with our step-by-step guide

Making arrangements with other people can sometimes be tricky, especially if you have to do it in another language. No more stressing, we’ve got you!

With this blogpost, you will be able to tell others to be on time and make sure you know when you have to be somewhere. Get ready to tell the time in Spanish and fill your agenda with some fun plans!

1. How to Ask for the Time in Spanish

Are you a person who is always running late? Or are you always early? Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait for someone without an explanation. 


You could use 

Estoy llegando tarde. – I’m running late.

Perdón por la demora. – Sorry I’m late.

and

Estoy llegando/Estoy de camino. – I’m on my way.

And if you really can’t make it, you can say

 No llego. – I can’t make it.

Do you want to learn to say the time in a more specific way? 

Let’s start with the part you will probably need the most: asking for the time in Spanish. You can use the following expressions to ask for the time: 

¿Qué hora es? – What time is it? 

¿Tiene hora? – Do you have the time?

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Atención

Even though tiempo means time (and, confusingly, "weather"), you never use the word "tiempo" to ask what the time is.

2. How to Tell the Time in Spanish

Now that you know how to ask for the time in Spanish, let’s take a look at how to say the time, or in Spanish “cómo se dice la hora”. 

 

In Spanish, you use the verb ser to talk about time. Do you need to freshen up your knowledge about ser and estar or about numbers in Spanish? Take a look at our blogposts: 

SER & ESTAR

spanish ser or estar
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Check our ultimate guide to Spanish toughest verbs – Ser and Estar. Explained in detail by levels and made easy by our Spanish teachers.

Numbers in Spanish

Numbers in Spanish
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Unravel the clutter of endless confusing Numbers in Spanish with this complete guide on how to make sense of the cardinal and ordinal Spanish numbers.

On the Hour

In general, you use the third person plural, son, except for one o’clock, where you use es

In Spanish you use the feminine article la before the hour (derived from la hora). As you can see, for la una we use la, while for all other numbers las.

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Remember!

One o'clock is an exception is Spanish: You say Es la una.

Another option is to use the 24-hour clock and say Son las dieciséis, for example, although this is less common. To help you out, we have an overview of the numbers until 24:

Spanish English

uno

one

dos

two

tres

three

cuatro

four

cinco

five

seis

six

siete
seven
ocho
eight
nueve
nine
diez
ten
once
eleven
doce
twelve
trece
thirteen
cuatorce
fourteen
quince
fifteen
dieciseis
sixteen
diecisiete
seventeen
dieciocho
eighteen
diecinueve
nineteen
veinte
twenty
veintiuno
twenty-one
veintidos
twenty-two
veintitres
twenty-three
veinticuatro
twenty-four

Quarter Past, Quarter to and Half Past

Now you know how to say the time on the hour, but what if it’s half past 2? Or a quarter to 4? 

  • 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.

Time + Minutes

If you want to be even more specific, you can use the next formula until half past the hour:

es/son + las + hour + y + number of minutes

or

es/son + las + hour + con + number of minutes

For everything after half past the hour, you can use the formula: 

es/son + las + hour + menos + number of minutes

Here are are a few examples:

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Atención

In Latin America, you can also use the phrases cuarto para or un cuarto para to say a quarter 'til. Note that both the present tense third-person singular (es) and plural (son) of ser are commonly used with this phrase.

✏️ Test Your Knowledge


3. Time Expressions in Spanish

Of course, there are other ways to express the time without mentioning the hour. Here is some vocabulary you could use to talk about the different times of the day:

Spanish English

el mediodía

midday

la mañana

morning

la noche

night

la madrugada

the middle of the night

la medianoche

midnight

el amanecer

dawn

la tarde
the afternoon

To make it even easier for you, we have prepared an overview of the most common time expressions

SPANISH ENGLISH

El día

The day

El fin de semana

The weekend

Ahora

Now

Este jueves

This Thursday

El proximo viernes

Next Friday

El viernes que viene

Next Friday

Pasado

Last 

Pronto

Soon

Temprano

Early

Tarde

Late

Más temprano

Earlier

Más tarde

Later

Hasta el lunes

Until Monday

Antes del miércoles

Before Wednesday

Después del miércoles

After Wednesday

Desde el domingo

Since Sunday

Algunos días

Some days

Todo el día

All day

Todos los días

Everyday

Cada sábado

Every Saturday

El sábado

On Saturday

El sábado por la mañana

Saturday morning

Mañana por la tarde

Tomorrow afternoon

Mañana por la tarde

Tomorrow evening

Mañana por la noche

Tomorrow night

Pasado mañana

The day after tomorrow

En dos/tres/cuatro/etc. días

In two/three/four/etc. days

Do you want to learn more? Take a look at our blogpost about the days of the week, months and seasons in spanish.

Finally, there are also a few sayings and other expressions about the time in Spanish:

Now you have everything you need to make plans in Spanish. Never be late again! 

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telling the time in Spanish
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