Telling Time in Spanish

In Spanish, the verb ser (to be) is used to tell the time of day. When referring to "one o'clock" the third person singular form es is used. For all other hours of the day, the third person plural form son is used. Consider the following examples.

It's one o'clock.
Es la una.
It's one thirty.
Es la una y media.
It's two o'clock.
Son las dos.
It's four thirty in the afternoon.
Son las cuatro y media de la tarde.


Notice that the feminine article (la, las) is placed before the hour since it refers to "la hora" which is feminine.

It's one o'clock.
Es la una.
It's two o'clock.
Son las dos.
It's ten past one.
Es la una y diez.


Minutes are added to the hour using the word y (and) and are subtracted from the hour using the word menos (less). Consider the following examples.

It's thirteen minutes past three.
Son las tres y trece.
It's 1:05.
Es la una y cinco.
It's four minutes till one.
Es la una menos cuatro.
It's eleven minutes till nine.
Son las nueve menos once.


The words media (half) and cuarto (quarter) are also used when telling time Spanish.

It's half past one.
Es la una y media.
It's quarter past five.
Son las cinco y cuarto.
It's quarter till eleven.
Son las once menos cuarto.


The formula a + la(s) + time is used to indicate that something is occurring, or has occurred, at a specific time. Review the following examples.

The class started at 1 o'clock.
La clase empezó a la una.
The meeting begins at three o'clock.
La reunión comienza a las tres.


To say that something is occurring, or has occurred, "exactly" at a specific time, simply add "en punto" at the end. Review the following examples.

The party begins at exactly nine o'clock.
La fiesta empieza a las nueve en punto
The meeting starts at 1 o'clock on the dot.
La reunión comienza a la una en punto.


In Spanish, a.m. and p.m. are differentiated using the expressions "de la mañana", "de la tarde" and "de la noche."

It's two in the afternoon.
Son las dos de la tarde.
It's three in the morning.
Son las tres de la mañana.
It's nine in the evening.
Son las nueve de la noche.