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Telling the Minutes 31-59: Time in Spanish

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  • 0:07 Telling the Minutes
  • 1:50 Minutes 31-59
  • 3:12 Practice
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Garcias-Casas
Telling time is something we do on a daily basis. It is also one of the key components of learning a foreign language. In this lesson we will build upon our knowledge and focus on learning the minutes 31-59 in Spanish.

Telling the Minutes in Spanish

¿Qué hora es? What time is it? By looking at the clock we know it's 5. Son las cinco. We also know that counting the minutes up to 30 follows the structure horas y minutos, so we can say Son las cinco y cinco, son las cinco y cuarto, son las cinco y veintitrés and son las cinco y media To tell the minutes from 31-59 we use another structure. In this lesson, we will learn how to tell the minutes 31-59.

In English, we have two different ways of telling this time: we can say 'It's 5:45' or we can say 'It's a quarter to six.' In Spanish we can also say the minutes 31-59 in two different ways. If we tell the minutes up to 30 we use the structure horas y minutos. If it falls in the 1:00 hour, we would say Es la una y (minutos), and for all other hours, Son las (hora) y (minutos).

But what happens if it's 5:45? We can say, Son las cinco y cuarenta y cinco, following the same structure, but in this video we will focus on the new structure. Here, we state the minutes until the following hour. Similar to English, when we say 'It's a quarter to six,' in Spanish we say the following hour, which would be 6 minus a quarter. Son las seis menos cuarto. So the structure would be Son las (hora) menos (minutos). Just remember that we always round up to the next hour, and then subtract the remaining minutes until that hour.

Telling the Minutes 31-59 in Spanish

Let's look at the minutes 31-50 in more detail as we review the new structure.

8:50 First we have to round up to the next hour. Good. So we know the first part of our structure is Son las nueve; now we have to see how many minutes until 9:00. How many minutes until 9:00? 10. So we can express 8:50 as Son las nueve menos diez, literally, 9:00 minus 10. And as we would say in English, 'It's ten to nine.'

Look at the time, and let's do the same for these clocks:

  • 4:45 Son las cinco menos cuarto
  • 11:32 Son las doce menos veintiocho
  • 6:54 Son las siete menos seis

These last two can be tricky:

  • 1:47 Son las dos menos trece. Even though it is 1:47, the following hour is 2, which is why we say Son las 2 menos trece.
  • 12:58 Es la una menos dos. After 12, the next hour is 1, so we use the singular form Es la una menos dos.

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