Spanish Vocabulary: The 24-Hour Clock

Spanish Vocabulary: The 24-Hour Clock

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Spanish Vocabulary: The 24-hour Clock
el vocabulario español: el sistema de 24 horas

  • More commonly known as military time.
  • Utilized when operations run day and night continually.



In most Spanish-speaking countries (and, in fact, in most countries other than the U.S.), time is usually expressed on a 24-hour clock (what we in the United States generally refer to as “military time”).  The 24-hour system is especially used in public announcements such as timetables, bus/train/plane schedules, movie/television/radio listings, sporting events, and business hours of operation.  So it’s important to be able to understand and tell the time according to the 24-hour system!

The following phrases are used to denote A.M./P.M. in Spanish when expressing time according to the 12-hour system, often in

“de la mañana” : A.M.

“de la tarde” : P.M.  (from noon until 6:00p.m.)

“de la noche” : P.M.  (from 6:00p.m. until midnight)

However, these phrases are NOT used when expressing time according to the 24-hour system.

With the 24-hour clock, the words “medianoche”, “mediodía”, “cuarto”, and “media” are not used, and the number of minutes is expressed by a full number.

12:00p.m. : Son las doce (de la tarde). / Es el mediodía.
12:00 : Son las doce.

1:15p.m. : Es la una y cuarto (de la tarde).
13:15 : Son las trece quince.

5:30p.m. : Son las cinco y media (de la tarde).
17:30 : Son las diecisiete treinta.

9:45p.m. : Son las diez menos cuarto (de la noche).
21:45 : Son las veintiuno cuarenta y cinco.

12:00a.m. : Son las doce (de la mañana). Es la medianoche.
24:00 : Son las veinticuatro.

12:10a.m. : Son las doce y diez (de la mañana).
00:10 : Es la cero diez.

NOTE:  24-hour time can also be written as “12.00”, “13.15”, OR as “12,00”, “13,15”, etc.

To calculate 24-hour time, add 12 to the 12-hour system time for the hours between noon and midnight:

3:45a.m. = 03h45
3:45p.m. = 15h45
6:30p.m. = 18h30

To calculate 12-hour time, subtract 12 from the 24-hour system for the hours between noon and midnight:

14h30 = 2:30p.m.
23h20 = 11:20p.m.


¿A qué hora es la película?
At what time is the movie?

La película es a las veintiuno horas cinco.
The movie is at 9:05p.m.

¿A qué hora abre el banco?
At what time does the bank open?

El banco abre a las nueve.
The bank opens at 9:00a.m.

¿A qué hora cierra el banco?
At what time does the bank close?

El banco cierra a las dieciocho.
The bank closes at 6:00p.m.

¿El tren llega a qué hora?
The train arrives at what time?

El tren llega a las veintitrés treinta y cinco.
The train arrives at 11:35p.m.


  • LEAF Spanish Kahoot: The 24-hour Clock

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