Telling the time in Spanish

Saying what time it is - on the hour

To find out what the time is, ask ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

Reply with son las followed by a number to say the time on the hour.

For example:

  • ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

  • Son las dos - It is two o’clock.

However, for one o’clock use es la instead of son las.

For example:

  • ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

  • Es la una - It is one o’clock.

Here is a reminder of useful numbers to help you to say the time in Spanish.

uno (una when telling the time)one
doce twelve

Saying what time it is - quarter past, half past and quarter to

To say the time in Spanish, say the hour first followed by a phrase or number.

To say quarter past (y cuarto), half past (y media) and quarter to (menos cuarto) the hour, add these phrases to ‘on the hour’ phrases.

For example:

  • Son las diez y cuarto - It’s quarter past ten.

  • Son las diez y media - It’s half past ten.

  • Son las diez menos cuarto - It’s a quarter to ten.

Son las tres

Minutes to and past the hour

To say minutes past the hour or minutes to the hour, add these phrases to the hour.

y cincofive past
y diezten past
y veintetwenty past
y veinticincotwenty-five past
menos cincofive to
menos diezten to
menos veintetwenty to
menos veinticincotwenty-five to

For example:

  • Son las nueve y diez - It is ten past nine.

  • Es la una menos veinte - It is twenty to one.

Saying what time it is - in the morning, the afternoon and the evening

In Spain, people often say de la mañana (in the morning), de la tarde (in the afternoon, from 13:00 until 18:00), and de la noche (in the the evening, from when it gets dark until midnight).

For example:

  • Son las ocho de la mañana - It’s eight o'clock in the morning.

  • Son las tres y media de la tarde - It’s half past three in the afternoon.

  • Son las nueve y cuarto de la noche - It’s quarter past nine in the evening.

Son las tres y cuarto de la tarde

Saying what time it is - the 24 hour clock

You may find that the 24 hour clock is used for timetables, television or film listings or hours that a shop is open.

For example:

  • Son las trece quince - It's 13:15.

  • Son las diecisiete treinta - It's 17:30.

  • Son las veintiuna cuarenta y cinco - It's 21:45.

  • Son las cero diez - It's 00:10.

Saying at what time things happen

Use a las + the time to say when something happens.

For example:

  • Desayuno a las siete - I have breakfast at seven o'clock.

  • Ceno a las seis y media - I have dinner at half past six.

Because 'one o’clock' is singular, remember to use a la, instead of a las.

For example:

  • Como a la una y media - I eat at half past one.

Describing daily routine

To describe what you do during the day and at what time, you may need to use some reflexive verbs.

Reflexive verbs are verbs that talk about, demonstrate or describe an action that is being done to the person who is carrying out the action, like saying for example ‘to myself’, such as ‘I wash myself’.

For example:

  • Me levanto a las ocho menos cuarto - I get up at quarter to eight.

  • Me lavo a las ocho - I get washed at eight o'clock.

  • Me acuesto a las nueve y media - I go to bed at half past nine.

Other useful verbs include:

  • Voy al colegio a las ocho menos cuarto - I go to school at quarter to eight.

  • Llego a casa a las tres y media - I get home at half past three.

  • Juego al fútbol en el parque a las cinco - I play football in the park at five o'clock.

  • A las seis hago los deberes - At six o'clock I do my homework.

Llego a casa a las tres y media

Have a look at this downloadable vocabulary list to see more useful words to describe your daily routine

Daily routine - extra vocabulary

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