What time is it? Learn how easy is to ask and tell time in Spanish now! Part I

July 17, 2015

 

A conversation about time usually starts with “what time is it”?

 

But, how can you ask what time it is in Spanish and how can you tell someone what time it is?

 

Learn everything you need about asking and telling the time in just 8 easy steps!

Let´s see in this post the first four and more important steps:

 

1. The basic formula for “WHAT TIME IS IT”? is: ¿qué hora es?

 

WHAT TIME IS IT?       ¿QUÉ HORA ES?

 

2. In expressing time, “IT IS” is expressed by “es la” (for one), and “son las” for other hours (two o’clock, three o’clock, and so on). The feminine article “la, las” is used before the hour because it refers to “la hora”.

 For example:

  • Es la una – It’s one o’clock.

  • Son las cuatro – It’s four o’clock.

 

3. For TIME AFTER THE HOUR (up to half past) use “Y”, followed by the number of minutes.

  • To indicate the half hour, use “y media”.

  • To indicate the quarter hours, use “y cuarto”.

 

TIME AFTER THE HOUR: HOUR + Y + NUMBER OF MINUTES

HALF PAST HOUR: HOUR + Y MEDIA

QUARTER PAST HOUR: HOUR + Y CUARTO

Examples:

  • Es la una y diez – It’s ten (minutes) past one. It’s 1:10.

  • Son las siete y media – It’s half past seven It’s 7:30.

  • Son las nueve y cuarto – It’s a quarter past nine. It’s 9:15.

 

NOTE

Instead of “media” and “cuarto”, the number of minutes may be used (treinta, quince).

  • Son las tres y treinta – It’s three-thirty. It’s half past three.

  • Es la una y quince – It’s one-fifteen. It’s a quarter past one.

 

4. For TIME AFTER HALF PAST, use the following hour followed by “menos” and the number of minutes until the following hour.

 

TIME AFTER HALF PAST: FOLLOWING HOUR + MENOS + MINUTES UNTIL FOLLOWING HOUR

 

Examples:

  • Son las cinco menos veinte – It’s twenty minutes to five. It’s 4:40.

  • Son las ocho menos cuarto – It’s a quarter to eight. It’s 7:45.

 

NOTE

You can also express time numerically with “y”:

  • Son las cuatro y cuarenta. (It’s 4:40.)

  • Son las doce y cuarenta y cinco. (It’s 12:45)

 

 

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