Spanish Telling Time

Beginner Spanish - Level A1


It's easy to “decir la hora” (to tell time) in Spanish as long as you know your cardinal numbers and ser conjugations.

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Spanish A1


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Telling Time in Spanish

Need to know what time your meeting starts, when you should be in class or when your favorite show is airing? Then you need to know how to tell time in Spanish! Let’s get started!

Step 1: When telling time in Spanish, we use two phrases: “son las” and “es la”. We use son las for all hours 2-12 and es la only when talking about 1:00. For example: 2:00 = son las dos but 1:00 = es la una.

Step 2: Here is the simple formula for telling time in Spanish:

Son las or Es la + HOUR + Y + MINUTE


               Examples: 6:05 son las seis y cinco, 3:20 son las tres y veinte

Step 3: At the end of this phrase we can add these phrases to tell which time of the day we are in:

                AM = de la mañana

                PM = de la tarde (afternoon) or de la noche (night)

Step 4: We have two special words for certain minutes in the day. We do not use the number words for these but these special phrases instead.

                :15 = cuarto (3:15 = son las tres y cuarto)

                :30 = media (6:30 = son las seis y media)


Step 5: With minutes :45-:59 we use a special phrasing of “menos”. This is the equivalent to the phrase “5 till” or “quarter till” in English. Just like in English, we will go to the next hour up and calculate the minutes until the next hour. Here is our new formula:



6:55 = son las + siete (see how this is the next hour up from 6:00?) + menos + cinco (this is the difference from :55 to the next hour). You ending phrase will be: son las siete menos cinco.

3:50 = son las + cuatro (see how this is the next hour up from 3:00?) + menos + diez (this is the difference from :50 to the next hour). You ending phrase will be: son las cuatro menos diez.
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Let’s practice!
Answer the following questions below and be sure to click READ MORE to see the answer key! 

  1. Which beginning phrase should be used with 3:20?
    1. Es la
    2. Son las
  2. Which beginning phrase should be used with 1:15?
    1. Es la
    2. Son las
  3. How do we say :15 in Spanish?
    1. Cinco
    2. Cuarto
    3. Cuatro
    4. Media
  4. How do we say :30 in Spanish?
    1. Quince
    2. Cuarto
    3. Treinta
    4. Media
  5. With minutes :45-:59 we use which new word?
    1. Menos
    2. Minus
    3. Minnie
    4. Mickey
  6. How would you write 7:05?
  7. How would you write 8:30?
  8. How would you write 2:15?
  9. How would you write 1:20?
  10. How would you write 8:55?

Answer key:

  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. D
  5. A
  6. Son las siete y cinco
  7. Son las ocho y media
  8. Son las dos y cuarto
  9. Es la una y veinte
  10. Son las nueve menos cinco 

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