SPANISH LESSON 18: ¿Qué hora es?

Hola mis amigos.  Bienvenida a la clase de español.

Today we’re going to talk scheduling.  Well, timing rather.  You’re going to learn how to ask for the time and give it too! So let’s jump right in.

Asking for the time: ¿Qué hora es?

Time is la hora in Spanish. To ask what time it is in Spanish, you say ¿Qué hora es? – What time is it?

To answer or tell the time on the hour you say:

Es la una – it is one o’clock

Son las dos – it is two o’clock

Son las tres – it is three o’clock

This continues until twelve o’clock.

I hope you remember your numbers!

Qué hora es

Grammar Note:

  • Note that time “la hora” is feminine so the feminine articles are used.
  • Note that 1 o’clock is singular so “es” is used. All other numbers require “son” because they are plural.


  • It is important to note that 12 o’clock is expressed by las doce. “It is 12 o’clock” would be son las doce. If you want to say it is midnight / midday you say es el mediodía for “it is midday” and es la medianoche for “it is midnight.

Time After The Hour

To express fractions of the hour, use the word for ‘and’ (y). This is used to express minutes after the hour.

When you want to express 30 minutes after the hour or half hour you use the expression “y media“.  Media means half; media hora = half hour!  Son las cinco y media literally translates to “It is five and half.”

hora y media

What about 15 minutes or a quarter after the hour? Quarter = Cuarto.  Note the spelling. The word for 4 is cuatro. Very close but very different meanings.  And an area mean Spanish teachers love to test in listening comprehensions!

hora y cuarto

Watch and listen to this short video by Learning Time Fun

Practice Exercise: ¿Qué hora es?

Look at these clocks and write what time it is.  Check your answers after and let me know how many you got right.

Hora test

Respuestas: 1. Son las tres y media; 2. Son las seis y cuarto; 3. Son las tres; 4. Son las doce/ Es mediodía/ Es medianoche

Using Time in Conversation

So now you’ve learnt to tell the time (for the most part). Let’s expand that information to include

  • At what time you do something
  • Some expressions used with time
When asked the time:

“¿Qué hora es?” 

 You answer:

Son las tres y media

Remember that “son las tres” means “it is 3 o’clock.”  However, to say “at three” you say “a las tres”

Por ejemplo:   ¿A qué hora estudias? (At what time do you study?)

Estudio a las siete y media de la noche. (I study at 7:30 in the night.)

Saying when something happens 

The following expressions are used to express the time of day in general terms i.e. when no specific time is given.

Por ejemplo: Por la mañana, yo como el desayuno. – In the morning, I eat breakfast.

To say at what time of the day you like to do something, use the following phrases.

  • Por la mañana – in the morning
  • Por la tarde – in the afternoon
  • Por la noche – in the night


When using a specific time, the following expressions are used:

  • De la mañana – in the morning
  • De la tarde – in the afternoon / evening
  • De la noche – in the night

Por ejemplo – Son las cinco de la tarde. – It is 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

Grammar Note

Note that the Spanish word for ‘in’ is ‘en‘.  However, we do NOT use ‘en‘ to express time.  Look again at the above expressions.  We used ‘por‘ and ‘de‘.

Useful Expressions for Time

Here are a few more expressions using time.

Son las tres en punto It is three on the dot.
Son las cinco y pico It is just after five.
Falta poco para las seis It’s a few minutes to six. It’s nearly six.
Falta mucho para las seis It’s a long time until six.
Estoy atrasada I am late (feminine)
Estoy atrasado I am late (masculine)
Está atrasada She is late
Está atrasado He is late


I hope you’ve learnt how to tell time in Spanish now.  In our next lesson we’ll look at minutes to the hour.

Hasta Luego.



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I’m a Latin American Studies teacher, teaching Latin American History and Politics and Basic Spanish. I love reading, writing, teaching and travelling.  Travel over the Andes with me to explore the diverse culture of Latin America.

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