Spanish Language Blog

¿Qué hora es? Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary

How many times do you look at your watch during the day? Today we are going to remember how to tell the time in Spanish:

– We will use the verb “ser” to express time of day, in singular if we refer to “one o’clock” and plural when talking about the rest. As “la hora” is feminine, we will use  the feminine article “la, las”.

           Es la una.  It’s one o’clock.

          Son las dos. It’s two o’clock.


– “En punto” is our expression for o’clock. To add minutes we will use “y”, and to substract them we will use “menos”.

          Empiezo a trabajar a las ocho en punto. I start working at eight o’clock.

          Son las tres y doce. It’s twelve minutes past three.


– For for quarter-hours we use “y cuarto”, “menos cuarto”, and for half-hours “y media”.

          Siempre almorzamos a las dos y media. We always have lunch at half past two.

          El autobús llega a las siete menos cuarto. The bus arrives at quarter to seven.


– When the hour is not specified, the preposition “por” is generally used to indicate the time of day during which something takes place: por la mañana (in the morning), por la tarde (in the afternoon), por la noche (at night).

If we want to set the hour, the preposition “de” will be used.

          Eran las cinco de la mañana. It was five in the morning.

          Siempre leo por la tarde. I always read in the afternoon.


– Some more useful expressions are  a + la(s) + time when talking about specific time, and “dar” with the meaning of strike:

               Van a dar las cinco.  It is going to strike five.

               La película empieza a las seis. The film starts at six.


– And to end with, some idioms you can’t forget:

           Son las once y pico. It is a little after eleven.

          Es mediodía / medianoche. It is noon / midnight.

          Él no llegó a tiempo. Nosotros  fuimos puntuales. He did not come on time. We were in time.

          El avión llegó una hora atrasado. The plane was an hour late.

          El tren está adelantado. The train is ahead of time.


Or course there are a lot more. Can you add any more to this list?

Keep learning Spanish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!