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Table of contents Chapter 19 19.1.1 Expressions of time

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Chapter 19: Date and Time

  19.1.1 Expressions of time

The Spaniard counts the full hour and adds the time that has gone after the full hours (until 30 minutes past the full hour) or subtracts the minutes (from the 31st minute) until the next full hour.

Son las diez y quince.
Son las seis menos diez.

If it's not clear the times of the day is added:

  Times of the day
de la mañana = in the morning
de la madrugada = in the early morning hours
de la tarde = in the afternoon
de la noche = in the evening

The following table shows the logic of the Spanish system of expressions of time. The blue words are not actually part of the phrases, they are only given to better understanding the logic. The time (that would be spoken in a real situation is written in red).

  Son/   Es   full hour + addition /
    subtraction to
    the full hour
time digitally
  in words (direct   translation)   time of day
Son
las trece
horas
menos quince
minutos
12:45 p.m.
(it) is 13 hours minus 15 minutes
 
Es
la una
hora
y cinco
minutos
1:05 a.m.
(It) is one hour and five minutes
de la madrugada
Son
las tres
horas
menos quince
minutos
2:45 p.m.
(It) is three hours minus 15 minutes
de la tarde
Eran
las cinco
horas
menos veinticinco minutos
4:35 p.m.
(It) was five minus 25 minutes
de la tarde
Era
la una
hora
y veinte
minutos
1:20 a.m.
(It) was one hour and twenty minutes
de la madrugada
Son
las tres
horas
y cuarto
3:15 p.m.
(It) is three hours and a quarter
de la tarde
Son
las cuatro horas
y media
4:30 p.m.
(It) is four hours and a half
de la tarde
Son
las nueve
horas
y media
9:30 p.m.
(It) is nine hours and a half
de la noche
Son
las diez
horas
y cuarto
10:15 a.m.
(It) is ten hours and a quarter
de la mañana

The verb ser is used for expressions of time. Here is changed in number according to the count of number. The article is also used in the right number. Since the article has the (not spoken word) hora/s in mind it is always la/las.

  Time
Son las cuatro y cuarto. = It's a quarter past four.
Son las cuatro y cuarto de la tarde. = It's a quarter past four in the afternoon.
Son las cuatro y cuarto de la madrugada. = It's a quarter past four in the early morning.
Son las dieciséis y cuarto. = It's 4.15 p.m.
Son las seis. = It's six o'clock.
Son las seis de la tarde. = It's six in the afternoon.
Son las seis de la mañana. = It's six in the morning.
Son las dieciocho. = It's 6 p.m.
Son las tres. = It's three o'clock.
Son las tres de la tarde. = It's three o'clock in the afternoon.
Son las tres de la madrugada. = It's three o'clock in the early morning.
Son las quince. = It's 3 p.m.
Son las cinco menos cuarto. = It's a quarter to five.
Son las cinco menos cuarto de la madrugada. = It's a quarter to five in the early morning.
Son las cinco menos cuarto de la tarde. = It's a quarter to five in the afternoon.
Son las cinco menos cuarto. = It's 4.45 p.m.

Son las siete y media. = It's half past seven.
Son las siete y media de la mañana. = It's half past seven in the morning.
Son las siete y media de la noche. = It's half past seven in the evening.
Son las diecinueve y media. = It's 7.30 p.m.

Son las nueve. = It's nine o'clock
Son las nueve de la mañana. = It's nine o'clock in the morning
Son las nueve de la noche. = It's nine o'clock in the evening
Son las veintiuna. = It's 9 p.m.

Son las diez y veinte. = It's 20 past ten.
Son las diez y veinte de la mañana.
= It's 20 past ten in the morning.
Son las diez y veinte de la noche.
= It's 20 past ten at night.
Son las veintidos y veinte.
= It's 10.20 p.m.
Son las once y diecisiete. = It's 17 past 11.
Son las once y diecisiete de la mañana. = It's 17 past 11 in the morning.
Son las once y diecisiete de la noche. = It's 17 past 11 at night.
Son las tres menos veinte. = It's 20 to three.
Son las tres menos veinte de la tarde. = It's 20 to three in the afternoon.
Son las tres menos veinte de la madrugada. = It's 20 to three in the early morning.
Son las quince menos veinte. = It's 2.40 p.m.
Son las tres menos diez. = It's ten to three.
Son las tres menos diez de la madrugada. = It's ten to three in the early morning.
Son las tres menos diez de la tarde. = It's ten to three in the afternoon.
Son las quince menos diez. = It's 2.50 p.m.
Son las doce menos cinco. = It's five to twelve.
Son las doce menos cinco de la mañana. = It's five to twelve in the morning.
Son las doce menos cinco de la noche. = It's five to twelve at night.
Son las veinticuatro menos cinco. = It's 11.55 p.m..
Son las ocho menos cuarto. = It's a quarter to eight.
Son las ocho menos cuarto de la mañana. = It's a quarter to eight in the morning.
Son las ocho menos cuarto de la tarde. = It's a quarter to eight in the evening.
Son las veinte menos cuarto. = It's 7.45 p.m.

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