Time in Spanish: How to Ask and Tell the Time in Spanish

Updated on: February 7, 2024

¿Qué hora es?

Asking and telling time in Spanish is an essential skill for conversations and everyday life. Whether you need to schedule a meeting, make plans with friends, or just check the hour - being able to tell the time in Spanish will make communication much smoother.

The good news is that learning to tell the time is straightforward, especially if you already know numbers and common phrases. While there are slight regional variations, the basics of Spanish time telling don't vary drastically between countries.

So why is knowing how to tell the time so important when learning Spanish? Time operates differently across Spanish-speaking countries - with later dinners, longer lunch breaks, and more relaxed attitudes toward punctuality. Understanding time vocabulary and norms is key for hotel check-outs, train schedules, restaurant reservations, meet-ups, and more.

How to ask for the time in Spanish?

One of the first things you'll want to know is how to ask what time is it. In Spanish, you can simply say, "¿Qué hora es?" which translates to "What time is it?" Remember, when learning a new language, practice makes perfect. So, don't hesitate to ask locals for the time.

There are several ways to inquire about the time of day in Spanish, depending on the level of formality and personal preference. Here are some of the different ways to inquire ask about the time:

¿Qué hora es?

This is the most straightforward and widely used way to ask for the time. It's suitable for both formal and informal situations.

¿Tiene hora?

This is a more formal way of asking for the time and is often used in business or professional settings.

¿Podría decirme la hora, por favor?

This is a polite and formal way to ask for the time, particularly when you want to be very courteous.

¿Tienes hora?

This is a slightly more informal way to ask someone for the time, suitable for casual conversations with friends or acquaintances.

¿Sabes qué hora es?

 This is a friendly and informal way to ask for the time. It's similar to asking, "Do you know what time it is?"

¿Me puedes decir la hora?

This is another informal way to request the time from someone you are comfortable with.

¿Cuánto es? 

While primarily used for asking "How much?" in terms of price, it can also be used informally to ask for the time, especially in some Latin American countries.

¿Tienes la hora exacta?

This is a way to ask for specific time, not an approximation.

The choice of which phrase to use depends on the context and your level of familiarity with the person you're asking. In most cases, "¿Qué hora es?" is a safe and widely understood way to inquire about the time.

How to tell the time in Spanish?

Telling Time in Spanish

Using the 12-hour clock

In Spanish, the 12-hour clock is commonly used, just like in English. Here's how you say the hours:

  • 1:00 AM: *la una de la mañana* (literally, "the one in the morning").
  • 2:00 AM: *las dos de la mañana* (the two of the morning).
  • 12:00 PM: *el mediodía* (noon).
  • 1:00 PM: *la una de la tarde* (the one in the afternoon).
  • 2:00 PM: *las dos de la tarde* (the two of the afternoon).
  • 12:00 AM: *la medianoche* (midnight).

Spanish time in exact minutes

To express minutes past the hour, simply add the number of minutes after the word "y" (and). For example:

  • 1:15 AM: *la una y quince de la mañana* (the one and fifteen in the morning).
  • 2:30 PM: *las dos y treinta de la tarde* (the two and thirty of the afternoon).
  • 3:45 PM: *las tres y cuarenta y cinco de la tarde* (the three and forty-five of the afternoon).

Time telling using half past the hour

To say "half past" the hour, you can use "y media" (and a half). For example:

4:30 AM: *las cuatro y media de la mañana* (the four and a half of the morning).

7:30 PM: *las siete y media de la noche* (the seven and a half of the night).

Say the time in Spanish using quarters to/past a certain hour

Yes, you can tell time in Spanish this way. To say "quarter past" and "quarter to" the hour, you can use "y cuarto" (and a quarter) and "menos cuarto" (minus a quarter), respectively. For example:

  • 5:15 AM: *las cinco y cuarto de la mañana* (the five and a quarter of the morning).
  • 6:45 PM: *las siete menos cuarto de la noche* (quarter to seven of the night).

These are the basic ways to express the hours and minutes in Spanish. Remember to use "de la mañana" (in the morning), "de la tarde" (in the afternoon), or "de la noche" (at night) to specify the time of day when needed.

Time of the Day/Night in Spanish

Understanding the time of day is essential for scheduling and social interactions. In Spanish, we have Mañana (morning), Tarde (afternoon) and Noche (night). Let's delve on each part of the day:


This refers to the morning. It typically spans from sunrise until around noon or 12:00 PM. For example, "Voy a trabajar por la mañana" means "I'm going to work in the morning."


This translates to the afternoon. It usually starts around 12:00 PM and extends until the early evening, often until sunset. For example, "Nos vemos por la tarde" means "See you in the afternoon."


This denotes the night. It begins after sunset and continues until the early hours of the morning. For instance, "Vamos a cenar esta noche" means "We're going to have dinner tonight."

These expressions help specify when something is happening or when you're referring to a particular time of the day in Spanish.

Remember that the use of these terms can vary slightly depending on regional and cultural differences, but in general, they serve as a useful way to convey the time of day in conversation.

Talking about Spanish time: useful phrases

Here are some additional words and phrases related to time that Spanish speakers use, along with their English translations:

Basic time-related vocabulary

  • El tiempo - Time
  • La hora - Hour
  • El minuto - Minute
  • El segundo - Second
  • El día - Day
  • La semana - Week
  • El mes - Month
  • El año - Year

Time of day in Spanish expressions

  • La mañana - Morning
  • La tarde - Afternoon
  • La noche - Night
  • El amanecer - Dawn
  • El atardecer - Dusk
  • El mediodía - Noon
  • La medianoche - Midnight

Time phrases

  • En este momento - Right now
  • Hoy en día - Nowadays
  • A tiempo - On time
  • Tarde o temprano - Sooner or later
  • A menudo - Often
  • Por la mañana/tarde/noche - In the morning/afternoon/evening
  • A la misma hora - At the same time

Time-related verbs

  • Durar - To last
  • Ocurrir - To occur
  • Tardar - To take time
  • Medir - To measure
  • Contar - To count (used when telling time)

Time-related adverbs

  • Siempre - Always
  • Nunca - Never
  • A veces - Sometimes
  • Hoy - Today
  • Ayer - Yesterday
  • Mañana - Tomorrow

These words and phrases are essential for discussing and understanding time-related concepts in Spanish.

Whether you're telling time, talking about events, or expressing frequency, having a grasp of these terms will help you navigate time-related discussions in the language.

Time in Spanish: Conclusion

With some basic vocabulary and practice, you'll feel confident stating la hora in any situation - from scheduling an appointment to planning an evening out. Mastering this essential skill allows you to better navigate Spanish-speaking countries on your own terms, connect with locals over shared temporal norms, and most importantly, never show up late again! ¿Qué hora es? You'll have no problem answering that question after reading this complete guide. ¡Ahora ya estás listo para ir a la hora!

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Paula is an accomplished content strategist, communicator, and journalist with over 7 years of experience creating materials for language learners. Having worked on language curriculums and learning platforms in Colombia, Spain, and Australia, Paula offers an international perspective on second language acquisition. Her background in journalism and brand messaging allows her to develop content that informs and engages language learners across diverse platforms and learning styles.