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Spanish 101B

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When telling time in Spanish, remember that the hour is feminine and, except time involving one o'clock, is plural. We have to remember to use the article las (or the singular la when refering to times involving one o'clock.)

¿Qué hora es? - Es la una. [It's one o'clock.]

¿Qué hora es? - Son las tres y media. [It's three-thirty.]

Los Minutos

To report the minutes, think of a round clock and draw a line from the 12 straight down to the 6. The minutes on the right side of the clock (1 through 30) are represented by "y":

It is 2:13. Son las dos y trece.
It is 4:26. Son las cuatro y veintiséis.
It is 1:07. Es la una y siete.

The minutes on the left side of the clock (31 through 59) are represented by "menos":

It is twenty to four. Son las cuatro menos veinte.
It is five to eight. Son las ocho menos cinco.
It is ten 'til one. Es la una menos diez.

Note: the last examples of each of the above sections use Es. This is because one o'clock is singular. Anytime you plan to refer to la una, use es :

It is 1:00. Es la una.
It is 1:30. Es la una y media.
It is quarter to one. Es la una menos cuarto.

In this digital age it is possible to say:

It is 3:40. Son las tres y cuarenta.
It is 9:50. Son las nueve y cincuenta.
It is 1:35. Es la una y treinta y cinco.

You just have to be sure you know your higher numbers!

¿A qué hora..? vs. ¿Qué hora es?

  • ¿A qué hora..? means "At what time..?" (When does something occur?)
  • ¿Qué hora es? means "What time is it?" (Right now)

If a question begins ¿A qué hora..?, your answer must include the "a."

For example:

¿A qué hora es la reunión? At what time is the meeting? What time is the meeting?
La reunión es a las nueve. The meeting is at nine o'clock.
¿A qué hora termina la clase? At what time does class end? What time is class over?
La clase termina a las nueve. The class is over at nine o'clock. Class ends at nine.


Time expressions:

y cuarto - quarter past la medianoche - midnight
y media - the half-hour (thirty) el mediodía - noon
el crepúsculo - dusk el alba - dawn

de la mañana AM
Son las tres y media de la mañana It's 3:30 in the morning
de la tarde PM, afternoon
Son las dos y cuarto de la tarde It's 2:15 in the afternoon
de la noche PM, evening/night
Son las siete de la noche It's 7:00 at night
por la mañana in or during the morning
Estudio por la mañana I study in the morning
por la tarde in or during the afternoon
Practico español por la tarde I practice Spanish in the afternoon
por la noche in or during the evening or night
Estudio por la noche I study at night