PLP 009 - Beginners - Saying the time in Portuguese

Topic: Saying the time in Portuguese.

Olá everybody!

This beginners episode is a action formula and we will be using the vocabulary learned on the previous two episodes (numbers, time), with the topic: saying the time.

In this episode you learn how to:

  • Ask for the time.

  • Say the time.

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Portuguese Lab Podcast - European Portuguese - 09 - Saying the time.png
  • É uma hora.

  • It's 1 o'clock.

Hora, means, if you remember, hour. Hour is a feminine noun, a hora. So, the number one, um, has to change to feminine, transforming from um to uma. The verb é, is the verb to be conjugated in the present, 3rd person singular. So, the same you would use for he or she.

  • São duas horas.

  • It's two o'clock.

In this case the verb to be is conjugated in the 3rd person plural. Two hours, not one hour. Basically this is the conjugation you will use for all times, except one o'clock. So you don’t say é, you say são.

The word hora, in singular, also has to change to plural, horas.

Can you think how to say, it's three o´clock?

  • São três horas.

  • it's three o´clock

Let's add 15 minutes to the hour.

  • São três e um quarto.

  • It's a quarter past three.

Um quarto means a quarter.

Let's add another 15 minutes.

  • São três e meia.

  • It's half past three.

Meia means half.

Let's add another 15 minutes.

  • É um quarto para as quatro.

  • It's a quarter to four.

Again, here you need to use the verb in singular, because a quarter, um quarto, is singular.

Para as quatro, means to the four hours, so the article needs to be in plural, as.

Compare with, it's a quarter to one.

  • É um quarto para a uma.

Para a uma, means to the one hour, singular, so the article needs to be in singular, a.

This structure, a quarter to (um quarto para) you can use for any situation after the half hour,

You substitute a quarter to with the minutes.

For example,

  • São vinte e cinco para as quatro.

  • It's twenty-five minutes to four.

For each of these examples, instead of saying a quarter, or a half, you can say the minutes.

Instead of saying

  • São três e um quarto (it’s three and a quarter) you can say,

  • São três e quinze (it's three and fifteen) or

  • São três e quinze minutos (it's three and fifteen minutes).

Instead of saying

  • São três e meia (it’s three and a half) you can say,

  • São três e trinta (it's three and thirty) or

  • São três e trinta minutos (it's three and thirty minutes).


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Instead of saying

  • É um quarto para as quatro (it’s a quarter to four) you can say,

  • São quinze para as quatro (it's fifteen to four) or

  • São quinze minutos para as quatro (it's fifteen minutes to four).

The same thing for the word hours, horas. You can choose to say or leave out.

  • São três horas e quarenta e cinco minutos

  • It’s three hours and forty-five minutes.

You can say the time in a more formal way, by using the 24 hour clock. You can hear this on TV or at the airport, for example. If you want to say, a quarter past nine pm, you can say:

  • São vinte e uma e quinze. or

  • São vinte e uma horas e quinze minutos.

The words, a quarter (um quarto), a half (meia), are not used in this formal manner.

Informally, you use the 12 hour clock. Depending on context you can add the time of day, just to make it clearer.

Compare 9 am to 9 pm.

  • São nove da manhã.

  • São nove da noite.

Compare 3 am to 3 pm.

  • São três da manhã.

  • São três da tarde.

The word da, that you hear before morning, afternoon or night, is a contraction of the preposition de (from) with the feminine article a.

Now, how to ask for the time?

  • Que horas são?

  • What's the time?

Some possible answers:

  • São seis e vinte.

  • It's twenty past six.

  • É uma e dez.

  • It's ten past one.


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