Telling Time in Portuguese

Telling Time in Portuguese

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!

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