Since telling time obviously involves numbers, be sure you can count in Spanish by reviewing the numbers page. You’ll also want to be sure to know how to use the verb ser.
You can use a simple formula for telling time:
Ser+ la/las + number/time.
Es la una. → It is one o’clock.
Son las dos. → It is two o’clock.
To ask what time it is you say:
¿Qué hora es? → What time is it?
To ask when something will occur start your question with the preposition a.
¿A qué hora es la fiesta? → At what time is the party?
¿A qué hora vas a la tienda? → At what time are you going to the store?
Here are a few other keywords to know when saying the time.
la mañana → the morning (AM)
la tarde → the afternoon/evening (PM)
la noche → the night (PM)
cuarto → quarter/15 minutes *This is a noun and will always end in o.
media → half *This is an adjective, and since you are referring the the hour (la hora), it will end with a.
la medianoche → midnight
el mediodía → noon
De vs en vs por
Use de when referring to a specific time.
Son las cinco de la mañana → It is 5 o’clock in the morning.
Use en to refer to a general time on a specific day.
Mañana voy a trabajar en la mañana.→ Tomorrow I am going to work in the morning.
Use por to just refer to a general time.
De costumbre, hago la tarea por la tarde. → Usually, I do the homework in the afternoon.
Approaching the next hour
When you have a time that is almost the next hour, there are several ways to communicate the time. It is like in English when you might say it is a quarter to five instead of four forty-five.
Son las cinco menos quince./ Son las cinco menos cuarto. It is four forty-five.
Es la una menos diez. → It is ten to one.
Putting it all together
Es la una de la tarde. → It is one in the afternoon.
Son las dos y cuarto de la mañana. / Son las dos y quince de la mañana. It is a quarter past two./ It is two fifteen AM.
Son las tres y media. → It is three thirty.
*Not that when referring to the one o’clock hour, the verb ser is singular (es). All other hours are plural (son).