Telling Time in Spanish

It's important to be able to ask and tell the time in Spanish. You need it to be able to set appointments, make plans, and ask for the time on the street.

To ask what time is is, say:

If it's during the one o'clock hour (or if you're subtracting minutes from the one o'clock hour), you need the singular form (only one hour, right?): Es la una. [1:00]

Otherwise, you need the plural form:
Son las dos. [2:00]
Son lastres. [3:00]

To add minutes to the hour, just say y ("and") and the number of minutes:
Son lascuatro y diez. [4:10]
Son lasnueve y veinte. [9:20]
Son las siete y cuarenta. [7:40]

You can do this with any number of minutes, but it is most common to only add minutes up to the half hour. Once you get to minutes above thirty, it is common to subtract from the next hour (the same way we might say "It's ten to three" in English), using menos ("minus") and the number of minutes remaining:
Son lasochomenoscinco. [7:55]
Son lasdiezmenosdiez. [9:50]
Es la unamenosveinticinco. [12:35] (Careful - the next hour is one o'clock, which takes the singular form!)

Rather than using the number of minutes, you might use these phrases:
ycuarto = quarter after
Son lascinco y cuarto. [5:15]
y media = half past
Son las once y media. [11:30]
menoscuarto= quarter `til
Son las dos menoscuarto[1:45]
enpunto= on the dot
Es la una en punto. [1:00]
Más o menos = about
Son lastresmás o menos.
Es mediodia. = It's noon.
Es medianoche. = It's midnight.

The abbreviations AM and PM are rarely used in Spanish. More often, people use the 24-hour calendar, especially for printed calendars. It would not be strange to hear:
Son lasveinte y diez. [8:10 PM]

If the 12 hour clock is being used, the time of day will be indicated by using the following phrases:
de la mañana = in the morning (use this before noon) Son lassiete y media de la mañana. [7:30 AM]
de la tarde = in the afternoon (use this after noon and until early evening - tarde extends until it starts to get dark, so a little longer than English speakers think of for "afternoon.")
Son lascinco y cuarto de la tarde. [5:15 PM]
de la noche = in the evening (use this from the early evening until midnight)
Son las once menosdiez de la noche. [10:50 PM]

The phrases taught above are all for telling the time (i.e., saying "it is 3 o'clock). If you want to tell what time something is happening (i.e., "at 3 o'clock), use a ("at") in place of son or es.
Vamos a lastres. [We're going at three.] Hay unareunion a la una y quince. [There is a meeting at one fifteen.]

To ask "at what time?", use:
A quéhora...?
A quéhora van a venir? [At what time are they coming?]

Related Links:
Telling time in Spanish/ Diciendo la hora en español Quiz
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