Knowing how to tell the time in any language you speak is very important. Without being able to communicate or understand the time, you might miss appointments, meetings, parties, or even the bus! Let’s take a look at what you need to know in order to tell time in Portuguese.
How to ask what time it is
If you want to know what the current time is, ask
Que horas são?
Que = what
horas = hours
são = are (third person plural)
So you are literally asking “What are the hours?”
How to say the time
São + Número + Horas
So if it is 11 o’clock, we would say
São onze horas.
The exception to this rule is when it is 1 o’clock. Because one is singular, we need to make everything agree by conjugating the verb to the third person singular and changing the word “horas” to the singular form “hora”.
É uma hora.
How to tell the EXACT time with minutes
If you want to tell the exact time down to the minute, use the following formula
São + Horas + Minutos
(except for when the hour is 1. Don’t forget to use é)
7:35 – São sete e trinta e cinco
1:52 – É uma e cinquenta e dois
Noon and Midnight
Noon (12:00 p.m.) is meio-dia
It’s noon. / É meio-dia.
Midnight (12:00 a.m.) is meia-noite
It’s midnight. / É meia-noite.
Time of Day
In the morning = da manhã
It’s ten in the morning.
São dez horas da manhã.
In the afternoon = da tarde
It’s two in the afternoon.
São duas horas da tarde.
At night/In the evening = da noite
It’s ten at night.
São dez da noite.
Wee hours of the morning = da madrugada
It’s three in the morning.
São três horas da madrugada.
Quarter To, Half Past
If you want to say it is quarter to the hour, use Quinze para as…..
It’s quarter to 4. (3:45)
São quinze para as quatro.
If you want to say it’s half past the hour use …e meia
It’s half past twelve.
É meio-dia e meia.
Reading the Time
In Brazil, it is very common to write the time based on a 24 hour clock. You will likely come across the time written as follows: 19h. This means 7 p.m. To figure out the time past noon, subtract 12 from the number.
22h – 12 = 10 p.m.
14h – 12 = 2 p.m.
It takes some getting used to, but after some practice you’ll be a pro!
Now go make some dinner plans and practice using your new vocabulary and structures!