Times and Dates in Spanish

         

Telling Time in Spanish

To ask someone what time it is in Spanish, say this:

¿Qué hora es?
What time is it?

To tell someone what time it is use this formula:

son + las + the hour

Note: It's also acceptable to write times in numerical format in Spanish
(e.g. Son las 7:00).

Think of it as telling someone how many hours there are (or have been) since 12:00. For example:

Son las siete.
It's 7:00.

Son las once.
It's 11:00.

One major exception occurs at 1:00. Since there is only one hour, switch to a singular verb and article:

Es la una.
It's 1:00.

To indicate that the time is exactly on the hour, include en punto ("on the dot"):

Es la una en punto.
It's exactly 1:00.

Son las siete en punto.
It's 7:00 on the dot.

To express time past the top of the hour use y and the number of minutes:

Es la una y cinco.
It's 1:05.

Son las dos y diez.
It's 2:10.

Note: Don't confuse cuatro (four) with cuarto (quarter).

To express quarter hours you can use either quince or cuarto (quarter):

Es la una y quince.
It's 1:15.

Son las tres y cuarto.
It's 3:15.

To express half hours you can use either treinta or media (half):

Es la una y treinta.
It's 1:30.

Son las cuatro y media.
It's 4:30.

For times greater than a half hour you can either add the appropriate number of minutes or skip ahead to the next hour and subtract:

Es la una y cuarenta.
It's 1:40.

Son las dos menos veinte.
It's 1:40. / It's twenty to 2:00.

Times past the half hour may also be expressed using para and/or faltar (to lack) like this:

Faltan diez para las dos.
It's 1:50. / It's ten to 2:00.

Son diez para las siete.
It's 6:50. / It's ten to 7:00.

Times in Other Tenses

Note: Use the imperfect tense when stating times in the past.

You are not limited to the present when talking about time:

Era la una de la mañana.
It was 1:00 in the morning.

En dos horas serán las once.
In two hours it will be 11:00.

Other Useful Time Expressions in Spanish

Note: AM stands for Ante Meridiem ("before midday" in Latin). PM stands for Post Meridiem ("after midday" in Latin).

Most Spanish speakers do not use "AM" or "PM." To specify the period of the day you should add de la mañana (in the morning), de la tarde (in the afternoon), or de la noche (in the evening):

Es la una de la mañana.
It's 1:00 in the morning. / It's 1:00 AM.

Son las tres de la tarde.
It's 3:00 in the afternoon. / It's 3:00 PM.

Son las nueve de la noche.
It's 9:00 in the evening. / It's 9:00 PM.

For more information:
24-hour clock

Many digital clocks and printed schedules in Spanish speaking countries use a 24-hour time format for simplicity:

English:

 

Spanish:

9:30 AM
9:30 PM

09:30
21:30

Use mediodía to say "noon." Use medianoche to say "midnight":

Es mediodía.
It's noon.

Es medianoche.
It's midnight.

To ask when something will occur, use a que hora or cuándo:

¿A qué hora sale el avión?
At what time does the plane leave?

¿Cuándo viene Roberto?
When is Roberto coming?

To state when something will occur, use a las or a la:

El avión sale a las dos y media.
The plane leaves at 2:30.

Roberto viene a la una.
Roberto is coming at 1:00.

Dates in Spanish

Note: Spanish days and months are all masculine.


Note: Setiembre (abbreviated "set") is also considered a valid spelling in some places.


Note: Some Spanish speaking countries use single letter abbreviations for days of the week:
D, L, M, X, J, V, S.


Note: In some Spanish speaking countries, Monday (lunes) is considered the first day of the week.

Month Names and Day Names

Before we begin, here's a quick review of month names and day names (as well as their abbreviations):

Month:

Spanish:

abbr.:

January
February
March
April
Mayo
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

enero
febrero
marzo
abril
mayo
junio
julio
agosto
septiembre
octubre
noviembre
diciembre

ene
feb
mar
abr
may
jun
jul
ago
sep
oct
nov
dic

Day:

Spanish:

abbr.:

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

domingo
lunes
martes
miércoles
jueves
viernes
sábado

dom
lun
mar
mié
jue
vie
sáb

Notice that neither day names nor month names are capitalized in Spanish.

To ask someone what the date is in Spanish, say this:

¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy?
What is today's date?

The following questions will also work:

¿Qué día es hoy?
¿A cuántos estamos hoy?

To tell someone the date in Spanish, use this formula.

el + number + de + month + de + year

Note: You may also see dates abbreviated this way: 5-ene-77.

Notice there is one major difference between Spanish and English when giving dates. In Spanish, the day comes first, followed by the month, and then the year:

English:

 

Spanish:

July 4, 1776
September 15, 1821
December 7, 1941

4 de julio de 1776
15 de septiembre de 1821
7 de diciembre de 1941

Notice that there is no need for a comma in Spanish.

Note: When working with dates, Spanish numbers are masculine.

You may also spell out numbers when writing:

el cuatro de julio de 1776
el quince de septiembre de 1821
el siete de diciembre de 1941

One irregularity to be aware of happens with the first of the month. Rather than saying el uno, we use an ordinal number instead, el primero:

English:

 

Spanish:

January 1, 2001

El primero de enero de 2001 or
El 1ero de enero de 2001 or
El 1º de enero de 2001 or
El 1 de enero de 2001

This is only true for the first of the month. Don't turn May 5 into quinto de mayo; it's cinco de mayo.

¡Ojo!

When saying dates in Spanish you may not break the year into two parts as we do in English, the year is treated as one large number:

year:

English:

Spanish:

1995
2013

nineteen ninety-five
twenty thirteen

mil novecientos noventa y cinco
dos mil trece

To include the name of the day, place it in front of the date and add a comma:

Hoy es sábado, el 25 de febrero de 2017.
Today is Saturday, February 25, 2017.

Note: In some places you may even see month numbers written in Roman numerals: 7 / XII / 2020 or
7-XII-2020

When you see dates written in numbers only, it's important to remember that in Spanish the day comes first and then the month (or you may find yourself missing some important events):

English:

 

Spanish:

7 / 4 / 1776
9 / 15 / 1821
12 / 7 / 1941

4 / 7 / 1776
15 / 9 / 1821
7 / 12 / 1941

Other Useful Date Expressions in Spanish

Note: Anno Domini is Latin for "the Year of Our Lord."

In English, dates occasionally include "B.C." (Before Christ) or "A.D."(Anno Domini) to reckon the number of years before or since the birth of Jesus Christ. The more politically correct terms are "BCE" (Before the Common Era) and "CE" (Common Era). In Spanish they look like this:

English:

Spanish:

B.C.
A.D.
BCE
CE

Before Christ
Anno Domini

Before the Common Era
Common Era

a.C.
d.C.
AEC
EC

antes de Cristo
después de Cristo
antes de la era común
era común

To say "in a certain month" use the preposition en:

Voy a Guatemala en abril.
I'm going to Guatemala in April.

To say "on a certain day" use the definite article el:

Me voy el lunes.
I leave on Monday.

Me voy el tres de abril.
I leave on April 3.

Notes on Times and Dates in Spanish

Of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world, only the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay participate in Daylight Savings Time.

To a North American it may seem that Hispanics have a very relaxed view of times and deadlines. While airline, train, and TV schedules tend to be punctual, informal gatherings may not actually begin until an hour or more after the agreed upon time. A meeting scheduled for 6:00 may not get started until 7:30. If a Spanish speaker asks to meet with you a las siete, it may be more accurate to think that you've been asked to come no earlier than 7:00. Sometimes the word mañana may be better translated as "not today."

More Useful Words for Times and Dates in Spanish

anteayer
ayer
anoche
hoy
esta noche
mañana
el segundo
el minuto
la hora
el día
la semana
el mes
el año
la década
el siglo
el milenio
pasado, pasada
próximo, próxima
último, última

the day before yesterday
yesterday
last night
today
tonight
tomorrow
second
minute
hour
day
week
month
year
decade
century
millennium
past, last
next
last

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