How do I say the time in Spanish?

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Exact time
    • 17:31 - It is twenty-nine to six p.m.
    • 05:31 - It is twenty-nine to six a.m.
    • 01:05 - It is five past one a.m.
    • 00:25 - It is twenty-five past midnight.
  • Special cases
    • 17:00 - It is five o'clock p.m.
    • 17:15 - It is quarter past five p.m.
    • 17:30 - It is half past five p.m.
    • 17:45 - It is quarter to six p.m.
    • 00:00 - It is midnight.
    • 12:00 - It is noon.

What I think

I think in Spanish the pattern is

La(s) [hour] y / menus   [minutes] de la mañana / tarde
      [hour] +    -      [minutes]          am      pm

where "La" is only used for "una".


  • Exact time
    • 17:31 - Las seis menos veintinueve de la tarde.
    • 05:31 - Las seis menos veintinueve de la mañana.
    • 01:05 - La una y cinco de la mañana.
    • 00:25 - Son las veinticinco de la medianoche.
  • Special cases
    • 17:00 - La cinco punto.
    • 17:15 - Las cinco y quince de la tarde.
    • 17:30 - Las cinco y treinte de la tarde.
    • 17:45 - Las seis menos quince de la tarde.
    • 00:00 - Es medianoche.
    • 12:00 - Es medio día.

Is that right?


1 Answer 1


Some things about this before the exact translations.

In general you are overcomplicating it. In most cases you don't need to specify "de la tarde" or "de la mañana" (note that i used "de" instead of "por"), the person you are speaking to already knows if it's evening or not.

It's correct, but in an ordinary conversation it'd be really strange to repeat this all the time. You could use it maybe with someone in another time zone or someone who have recently waken up, things like that, but not as a common way of speaking.

If you are trying to give the exact time, I'd recommend to not use the "menos X" form. That's for colloquial speaking, but if you really need exact time use the actual numbers.

Also, regarding the "menos X" form, one commonly use it only from X:35 and not in an exact manner. It's super strange to say "las cinco menos veintinueve", you'd usually say "las cinco y media" and no more... it isn't exact, you only use it in circa five minutes ranges and even without saying the hour, f.i. "son las menos diez", "son las menos veinte", "son las menos cuarto", being an exception "son las menos veinticinco" when it is X:35.

Also, I understand you speak or are studying Deutsche possibly? It seems that you are mistaking some words like "seize" that I think it is Deutsche, vs. "seis" in Spanish (by the way... 17:00 hours is not six but five :D).

Taking in mind all this, I have "bolded" the errors:


  • Exact time
    • 17:31 - Las cinco y treinta y uno.
    • 05:31 - Las cinco y treinta y uno.
    • 01:05 - La una y cinco (note this is the only case where the article is singular).
    • 00:25 - Las doce y veinticinco.
  • Special cases and most commonly used in conversations.
    • 17:00 - Las cinco en punto.
    • 17:15 - Las cinco y cuarto.
    • 17:30 - Las cinco y media.
    • 17:45 - Las seis menOs cuarto (note: menOs, not menUs).
    • 00:00 - Es medianoche (here you can use "Las doce en punto" too).
    • 12:00 - Es mediodía (here you can use "Las doce en punto" too).
  • 1
    Good answer (+1) however I want to make a note. For 17:45 we in Colombia and in several parts of hispanoamérica we would say "(falta) un cuarto para las seis" instead of "menos cuarto". In the same way 17:50=diez para las seis, 17:40=veinte para las seis etc.
    – DGaleano
    Feb 2, 2017 at 12:56
  • Also regarding 17:31 vs 5:31 Nox is right we usually don't add "tarde" o "mañana" but when it is required we say cinco treinta y uno de la tarde or cinco treinta y uno de la mañana but never "por la ..."
    – DGaleano
    Feb 2, 2017 at 13:06
  • I don't know if it's a regionalism too localized, but I have often heard and used "menos cuarto las seis", or "menos veinte las cinco", often when the time is between ":30" and ":00". It's as if you were going to say just "menos cuarto", and then realized that you must say also the hour part.
    – Charlie
    Feb 2, 2017 at 13:27
  • Can we just clarify one thing. Do people say por la tarde in other contexts like mañana por la tarde (=tomorrow afternoon)
    – mdewey
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:30
  • 1
    @mdewey Mañana por la tarde / mañana / noche are OK. Depending on dialect you may also hear Mañana a la tarde / mañana / noche.
    – pablodf76
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:50

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