Have you ever been in a situation where you had to tell the time in Spanish? Maybe you had to schedule an airport taxi to come to pick you up, or maybe you met some friends on your trip and wanted to make some plans.
No matter what, telling time in Spanish is an essential skill that will make your conversations much, much easier!
Learning how to tell time in Spanish isn’t difficult at all. If you’ve mastered how to count in Spanish and know a few question words in Spanish already, then you’ll have no problem getting the hang of it.
What’s more, telling the time in Spanish doesn’t vary that much between countries. The biggest difference you’ll find is that some Spanish-speaking countries routinely use military time (24-hour clock) instead of the 12-hour clock.
This is the case in Spain and a few countries in South America, but more on that later! Are you ready to start learning? ¡Hora de comenzar!
Why learn how to tell the time in Spanish?
Okay, nowadays, it’s very likely that nobody will need to ask you for the time. Gone are the days when people would need to ask strangers on the street for the time (even if Hollywood movies would have us believe otherwise).
However, there are still many good reasons for us to be able to tell the time and ask for a specific time in Spanish. For example:
- You want to invite someone to an event, a date, or a business meeting.
- You want to ask a business for their operating hours.
- You need to make travel arrangements with your Airbnb host.
- You need to call a Spanish restaurant to make dinner reservations.
- Somebody calls you to reschedule and you need to pick a new time.
And the list goes on, and on, and on! There are countless situations in which knowing how to tell the time in Spanish would come in handy and it is also a building block skill that will aid you as you continue to learn, even if you are just starting out learning Spanish for kids. Luckily for you, learning to tell the time is not hard at all, and once you’ve read through this guide you’ll be able to navigate time-sensitive situations very easily.
How to tell the time in Spanish
As always, you want to start with the basics and go from there. If you haven’t yet, you should first learn Spanish numbers. Once you’ve mastered the numbers, you can move on to essential time-related words for Spanish.
How to ask what the time is in Spanish?
The first thing you’ll want to learn is hora (pronounced ora — don’t forget the h is silent in Spanish!), which translates to ‘hour’. When asking what time it is in Spanish, you’ll be using hora instead of tiempo (time).
If this sounds confusing, just keep in mind that when you ask for the time, you’re really asking the hour (and minutes!) component of time. Think of it like you’re asking them to check what hour their clock says it is! Note that the minutes part is implicitly included in hora, so no need to ask for the minutes as well. Here’s how to ask what time it is in Spanish
|What's the time?
|¿Qué hora es?
|ˈke ˈoɾa ˈɛs
|Do you have the time?
|¿Tienes la hora?
|ˈtjenes̬ la ˈoɾa
|Do you know what time it is?
|¿Sabes qué hora es?
|ˈsaβes ˈke ˈoɾa ˈɛs
How to tell the time on the hour
As mentioned, asking for the time in Spanish has no mention of minutes, but people are expected to give time in an hour and minutes format. But what if there are no minutes? Here’s how to say that it is 4 PM sharp.
|It’s one o’clock
|Es la una en punto
|It’s two o’clock
|Son las dos en punto
|It’s three o’clock
|Son las tres en punto
|It’s four o’clock
|Son las cuatro en punto
|It’s five o’clock
|Son las cinco en punto
|It’s six o’clock
|Son las seis en punto
|It’s seven o’clock
|Son las siete en punto
|It’s eight o’clock
|Son las ocho en punto
|It’s nine o’clock
|Son las nueve en punto
|It’s ten o’clock
|Son las diez en punto
|It’s eleven o’clock
|Son las once en punto
|It’s twelve o’clock
|Son las doce en punto
How to say half past, quarter past, and quarter to
Now, conversationally, we don’t need to get too specific when giving the time. In English, we usually say “it’s a quarter past three” instead of saying “it’s three fifteen.” The same is true for Spanish. Let’s get into a few examples.
|It's half past
|Son las tres y media
|It’s quarter past
|Son las doce y cuarto
|It’s quarter to
|Es cuarto para la una
How to say the time of day in Spanish
Beyond just giving a specific time, you’ll find that many Spanish speakers just go off of general time periods instead. We also tend to be very lax with our meeting times, especially compared to Germans and Americans who tend to be very punctual. You can read more about examples of cultural communication differences in business here.
I’d like to think it’s due to the Spanish siesta and how rest is built into our daily routines. For whatever reason, you’ll find that Spanish speakers tend to refer to meeting times as mere suggestions more so than firm commitments. That’s why people tend to make plans around general time periods instead of specific times in order to avoid being late.
Here are a few useful ones.
|Son las 10 de la mañana
|Son las 4 de la tarde
|Son las 7 de la tarde
|Son las 11 de la noche
|Midday / noon
|Nos vemos mañana al mediodía
|Su vuelo aterriza a la medianoche
|Llega antes del anochecer
|Desperté antes del amanecer
|Hora de dormir
|ˈoɾa ðe ðoɾˈmiɾ
|Es la hora de dormir
|Hora de comer
|ˈoɾa ðe koˈmɛɾ
|Es la hora de comer
|Hora de cenar
|ˈoɾa ðe seˈnaɾ
|Es la hora de cenar
|Hora de la siesta
|ˈoɾa ðe la ˈsjɛsta
|Es la hora de la siesta
|Around X time
|Como a las…
|ˈkomo a las
|Nos vemos como a las 8
How to tell exact minutes in Spanish
Now, even in Spanish-speaking cultures, there will be times when you’ll need to say or ask for the exact time. For example, if you have a flight to catch, a job interview, or a doctor’s appointment. You would never want to be late for any of those, so knowing the exact time is important.
Asking for the exact time is similar to English: all you have to do is throw in the word “exact” or “exactly” when you ask for the time.
Telling the exact minutes is also similar. First, you say the hour like you normally would and then you add the number for the minutes immediately after the number for hours. Just like in English you’d say “it’s two twenty-five” to say it’s 2:25, in Spanish, you’d say “son las dos veinticinco.”
Check out the below examples.
|What time is it exactly?
|¿Qué hora es exactamente?
|ˈke ˈoɾa ˈɛs ɛksak̚taˈmɛ̃nte
|Do you have the exact time?
|¿Tienes la hora exacta?
|ˈtjenes̬ la ˈoɾa ɛkˈsak̚ta
|Son las siete cero ocho
|ˈsõn las ˈsjɛte ˈsɛɾo ˈoʧo
|Es la una veinticinco
|ˈɛs̬ la ˈuna βei̯ntiˈsĩnko
Other ways to express time in Spanish
Beyond the simple time constructions mentioned above, there are three general ways for you to say the time in Spanish. In English, you can generally only say “it’s five forty five,” but there are a few slight variations that people may use in Spanish. Check these out:
|It’s five forty-five
|Son las cinco cuarenta y cinco.
|Son las cinco y cuarenta y cinco.
|It’s five forty-five
|Son las cinco con cuarenta y cinco.
What’s the difference, you ask? Nothing. They all mean the exact same thing.
It comes down to a matter of preference and regionalisms, but there is no distinct difference between any of them. You’re free to choose your favorite, but going with the first structure will probably make the most sense as it’s the most similar to English.
Other time-related phrases in Spanish
|In a Sentence/Example
|¿Qué día nos vemos?
|La próxima semana.
|En un mes me voy a México.
|En un año cumplo 18.
|Ayer me enfermé.
|¡Hoy es viernes!
|Mañana no trabajo.
|El lunes tengo trabajo.
|El martes es día feriado.
|El miércoles es mi cumpleaños.
|¿Quieres ir a cenar conmigo el jueves?
|¡Ya es viernes!
|El sábado voy a ir al museo.
|El domingo es mi día de descanso.
|El año pasado
|ɛl ˈaɲo paˈsaðo
|El año pasado fui a Argentina.
|Este año quiero ir a Chile.
|El próximo año
|ɛl ˈpɾoksimo ˈaɲo
|El próximo año me gradúo.
|La próxima vez
|la ˈpɾoksima ˈβes
|La próxima vez yo te invito.
|El mes pasado
|ɛl ˈmes paˈsaðo
|El mes pasado me dieron un aumento.
|Este mes voy a tener mucho trabajo.
|El próximo mes
|ɛl ˈpɾoksimo ˈmes
|El próximo mes me voy a Colombia.
|Take Your Time
|Toma tu tiempo
|ˈtoma tu ˈtjɛ̃mpo
|Toma tu tiempo para responder.
|Once Upon A Time
|Érase una vez
|ˈɛɾase ˈuna ˈβes
|Érase una vez, en un reino muy, muy lejano.
|A Long Time
|Me quedo en Argentina mucho tiempo.
|¿Alguna vez has ido a Venezuela?
|Ocasionalmente tomo vino tinto.
|Have a great time
|¡Pásalo bien en tus vacaciones!
|Until next time!
|¡Hasta la próxima!
|ˈasta la ˈpɾoksima
|Ya me voy. ¡Hasta la próxima!
|A lo largo del tiempo
|a lo ˈlaɾɣo ðɛl ˈtjɛ̃mpo
|Te vas a ir acostumbrando a lo largo del tiempo.
|Time is money
|El tiempo es oro
|ɛl ˈtjɛ̃mpo ˈɛs ˈoɾo
|El tiempo es oro, así que ¡a trabajar!
|¡Se acabó el tiempo!
|se akaˈβo ɛl ˈtjɛ̃mpo
|¡Se acabó el tiempo! Ya terminó el examen.
|Out of time
|Ya no queda tiempo
|ɟʝa ˈno ˈkeða ˈtjɛ̃mpo
|Me gustaría conocer ese museo, pero ya no nos queda tiempo.
|El tiempo vuela
|ɛl ˈtjɛ̃mpo ˈβwela
|El tiempo vuela cuando te diviertes.
Time in Spanish - FAQs
How do I say decades in Spanish?
Decades in Spanish are said in plural, exactly how they’re said in English. For example, the ‘80s are los ochentas, the ‘90s are los noventas, and so on. The only difference is that you need to spell out the names of the numbers when writing them.
How do I ask “How long?” in Spanish
|In a Sentence/Translation
|¿Cuánto tiempo … ?
|¿Cuánto tiempo te quedas? / How long are you staying?
|How long does it last?
|¿Cuánto dura … ?
|¿Cuánto dura la temporada de lluvia? / How long is the rainy season?
|How long does it take?
|¿Cuánto tarda …?
|¿Cuánto tarda el lavado de auto? / How long does the car wash take?
|How long have…
|¿Desde cuándo ... ?
|¿Desde cuándo vives en Colombia? / How long have you lived in Colombia?
|How long have…
|¿De cuándo acá …?
|de ˈkwãndo aˈka
|¿De cuándo acá eres vegetariano? / How long have you been vegetarian?
|For how long?
|¿Por cuánto tiempo …?
|poɾ ˈkwãnto ˈtjɛ̃mpo
|¿Por cuánto tiempo te quedas en Perú? / For how long are you staying in Peru?
How do I tell military time in Spanish?
Many Spanish-speaking countries, like Spain and Argentina, prefer to use military time when telling time. This will take some time to get used to if you’re used to the 12-hour clock, but learning how to tell military time in Spanish is just as easy as telling time on the 12-hour clock.
Simply use the corresponding number based on a 24-hour clock instead of using a 12-hour clock. For example, instead of saying “it’s six PM,” you would say “it’s eighteen” (son las dieciocho). Using the 24-hour clock obviates the need for specifying AM, PM, or what time of day it is.
The best way to get used to this is to practice a lot!
How do I say century in Spanish?
The Spanish word for “century” is siglo. Beyond that, you don’t need to worry about using ordinal numbers when referring to a specific century. Whereas in English you would say “the twentieth century,” in Spanish you would just say el siglo veinte. Much easier, right?
Keep in mind that centuries are usually written down using Roman numerals instead of spelling them out. So, you would say el siglo veinte but would write el siglo XX.
This might be complicated if you haven’t brushed up on your Roman numerals since elementary school. Check out the following table for a refresher.
|El siglo dieciséis
|El siglo XVI
|El siglo diecisiete
|El siglo XVII
|El siglo dieciocho
|El siglo XVIII
|El siglo diecinueve
|El siglo XIX
|El siglo veinte
|El siglo XX
|El siglo veintiuno
|El siglo XXI
Fun games that will help you learn the time in Spanish
Spanish time clock faces
This game is the easiest for large classes where individualized attention may be complicated. The teacher would need to pass out empty clock face worksheets like this one. Then, the teacher would say a time out loud and ask the students to draw the corresponding clock handles.
This game can be adjusted depending on the students’ level and should become increasingly difficult. For example, mix it up with 24-hour time and 12-hour time. Use phrases like y media and cuarto para to increase the difficulty level.
¿A qué hora es?
In this game, the teacher would write down a daily or weekly schedule on the board with a host of activities. Timed activities like desayuno, cena, and siesta would be ideal, but feel free to include other activities that you have recently covered in class. Make sure each activity has a specific time.
Then, you would call out each student and ask them what time you’re supposed to do something. The student will then have to look at the schedule and answer with the appropriate time. If you use a weekly schedule, you can also use this to test your students on the days of the week in Spanish.
You could even do a variation on this game to learn how to say the months in Spanish. Just create a year-long schedule with specific trips and activities happening in each month. If your students are advanced, you could ask them to call out the specific date and time of an activity!
Clock Hot Potato
Telling the time in Spanish games doesn’t have to be boring, and this game is the only proof you’ll need! To play this game, you will need to make a clock made out of foam. Play some music and have your students pass the clock around while the music is playing. When the music stops, ask whoever is holding the clock to translate a specific time.
Alternatively, you can say a specific time in Spanish and have the student move their hands to reflect the time. This can be great for learning how to tell military time in Spanish! The possibilities are endless, so feel free to get creative with this game.
Time's up. ¡Hasta la vista!
Well, time’s up for this blog post! We hope you found this to be a useful resource for telling the time in Spanish. As always, remember to complement learning Spanish online with some fun games and a lot of practice!
I can’t promise that knowing how to tell the time in Spanish will make Spanish-speakers be more punctual, but it’ll certainly help prevent any confusion on your side! Now, go out and make as many appointments as you’d like! ¡Hasta la próxima!
If you loved this article, explore more of our Spanish vocabulary blog lessons here.