Spanish Grammar: The Verb [SER] with Telling Time

Spanish Grammar: The Verb SER with Telling Time

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Spanish Grammar: The Verb [SER] with Telling Time
la gramática española: el verbo [ser] con decir la hora

  • The verb [ser] means to be. It is an irregular verb.
  • May be used to tell time and make appointments.


60-Second Spanish Grammar Lesson


The verb SER can help us tell time!

Telling time (decir la hora) is a basic skill that you can use to work with different people. Telling the correct time is also vital for traveling in places like airports, train stations, bus stations, and other public transit systems!

Telling time is understanding that in Spanish you’re really asking what HOUR it is.

¿Qué hora es?
What time is it?

¿A qué hora es el/la …
At what time is the … thing?

When it’s anytime during the one o’clock hour, ES LA UNA … (and minutes!)

When it’s anytime after between two o’clock, SON LAS DOS, TRES, CUATRO, etc… (and minutes!)

You can use Y CUARTO to indicate 15 minutes past.

Son las dos y cuarto.
It’s two and a quarter – It’s two fifteen – 2:15.

Es la una y cuarto.
It’s one and a quarter – It’s one fifteen – 1:15.

You can use Y MEDIA to indicate 30 minutes past.

Son las cinco y media.
It’s half-past five – It’s five thirty – 5:30.

Es la una y media.
It’s half-past one – It’s one thirty – 1:30.

Any time PAST the 30 mark, you can subtract minutes from the next hour on the clock.

Son las tres menos veinte.
It’s three minus twenty – It’s twenty-till three – It’s 2:40.

Son las once menos cinco.
It’s eleven minus five – It’s five-till eleven – It’s 10:55

Noon : El mediodía
Midnight : La medianoche / La madrugada.

Please note that the feminine article (la, las) is used before the hour because it refers to la hora.

Es la una.
It’s one o’clock.

Son las dos.
It’s two o’clock.

Minutes can be added to the hour using the word y (and).

Es la una y cinco.
It’s five minutes past one.

Son las tres y doce.
It’s twelve minutes past three.

Minutes can be subtracted from the hour using the word menos (less).

Es la una menos cinco.
It’s five minutes till one.

Son las tres menos doce.
It’s twelve minutes till three.

You can also use the words media (half) and cuarto (quarter).

Es la una y media.
It’s half past one.

Son las dos y cuarto.
It’s quarter past two.

Son las tres menos cuarto.
It’s quarter till three.

To say something occurs at a specific time, use the formula a + la(s) + time.

La fiesta empieza a las nueve.
The party begins at nine o’clock.

El banco abre a las ocho y media.
The bank opens at half past eight.

To differentiate between a.m. and p.m. use the expressions de la mañana, de la tarde and de la noche.

Son las dos de la tarde.
It’s two in the afternoon.

Son las dos de la mañana.
It’s two in the morning.

Son las diez de la noche.
It’s ten in the evening.

When no specific time is mentioned, use the expressions por la mañana, por la tarde, por la noche.

Siempre leo el periódico por las mañanas.
I always read the newspaper in the morning.



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