• Recognize times of day
  • Use numbers and time-related vocabulary to tell time

La hora

Statue of a melted stopwatch by Salvador Dali

Time is constructed using the following structure:

Es la/ Son las + (hora) + y/menos + (minutos) + de la mañana/ de la tarde/ de la noche

2:10 a.m. –> Play AudioSon las dos y diez de la mañana. (It is two ten in the morning.)

The word hora is feminine in Spanish, and that is why we use the article la/las when referring to time. Now note that there are certain times that commonly use fractions of an hour instead of minutes, and certain hours have special names:

¿Qué hora es?

5:00 –> Play AudioSon las cinco en punto. (It’s five o’clock sharp / on the dot.)
3:15 –> Play AudioSon las tres y cuarto. (It’s a quarter past three. – i.e. three fifteen)
4:30 –> Play AudioSon las cuatro y media. (It’s half past four. – i.e. four thirty)
1:40 –> Play AudioSon las dos menos veinte.*(It’s twenty to/of two. – i.e. one forty)
6:50 –> Play AudioSon diez para las siete* (It’s ten to seven– more common in Latin America)
1:00 –> Play AudioEs la una.** (It’s one o’clock.)
12:00 am –> Play AudioEs medianoche / Es la medianoche. (It’s midnight.)
12:00 pm –> Play AudioEs mediodía / Es el mediodía. (It’s noon / midday.)

* Note that once the time passes the 30-minute mark, we generally go up to the next hour and subtract the number of minutes before that hour.

** Son means “they are”, so son las… only works for numbers greater than one. To say “it’s one o’clock”, you have to say Play AudioEs la una (or Play AudioEs la una en punto).

The question Play Audio¿Qué hora es? is used when we want to find out what time it is right now. However, if we want to know at what time something is, the question is ¿A qué hora es…? (At what time is… / When is ..?)

Tomás: Cristóbal, ¿a qué hora es tu clase de español?
Cristóbal: Mi clase de español es a la una y cuarto de la tarde. ¿A qué hora es tu clase de biología?
Tomás: Mi clase de biología es a las ocho y media de la mañana.

Handmade sign reads Hoy a partir de las 19:00 h. Vigilia en la facultad de Biologia

¿Qué hora es 19:00h?

Many digital clocks and printed schedules in Spanish-speaking countries use a 24-hour time format to avoid the need for “AM” or “PM”:

English: Spanish:
9:30 AM

9:30 PM




Type the time shown on the clock (or the digital readout) into the box below. Then press “submit.” You can do this as many times as you want to practice telling time.
Son las cuatro y cuarto.
Es la una menos diez.
Son diez para la una.


¡Inténtalo! (Try it!)