The word “tiempo” in Spanish: uses and expressions

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The word “tiempo” in Spanish

If you’re learning Spanish, you may have come across the word “tiempo” which can be translated to “time” in English. However, it’s important to note that the word “tiempo” in Spanish has multiple meanings and can lead to confusion.

For example, “primer tiempo” doesn’t mean “first time” and “¿Qué tiempo hace?” doesn’t mean “What time is it?”. There are other Spanish words that can be translated to “time” in English as well. If you’re struggling with the use of this word, this article will clarify things for you.



1. “Tiempo” as the general notion of time 

When talking about duration, time allotted, available or used, it is accurate to use the word “


  • No tengo tiempo de preparar el almuerzo.

          I do not have time to prepare lunch.


  • Necesito más tiempo para terminar el inform.

          I need more time to finish the report.


  • Yo me tardé mucho tiempo en terminar la tarea.

          It took me a long time to finish the homework.


2. “Tiempo” in the context of weather

The word “tiempo” in Spanish
has a dual purpose. It is not only a reference to the concept of time but also a word used to describe climate. This dual use of the word “tiempo” can sometimes lead to interpretations based on context. 


The word “tiempo” in Spanish

  • ¿Qué tiempo hace en Medellín?

          What is the weather like in Medellín?


  • Vamos a acampar este fin de semana si hace buen tiempo.

          We are going to camp this weekend just if the weather is good.


  • Según el pronóstico del tiempo, mañana hará mal clima.

         According to the forecast, the weather is going to be bad tomorrow.


Either “clima” or “tiempo” can be used in this context, but in the third example, we already used the word “tiempo” as part of the meaning of “forecast,” so it is better to use “clima” just to avoid bad sound issues.


3. Time as an instance: La vez/las veces


The word “tiempo” in Spanish does not refer to a specific moment. In this context, the correct word is “vez” if referring to a singular instance or “veces” if referring to multiple instances.


  • Esta es la segunda vez que viajo a Colombia.

          This is the second time I have traveled to Colombia.


  • Estudio español 4 veces por semana.

          I study Spanish 4 times per week.


4. Time as the hour in the clock: la hora


¿Qué tiempo hace?The word “tiempo” in Spanish is not used to refer to the time shown on the clock. Instead, “la hora” is used. 

To ask for the time, use the singular form “¿Qué hora es?” However, when answering, use the plural form except when the time is 1:00, which is also singular. 

Besides, It’s not necessary to include the word “hora” in the answer.



  • ¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
    Es la 1:00 de la tarde. (It is 1:00 in the afternoon)
    Son las 9 de la mañana ( It is 9 in the morning)


  • ¿A qué hora es la clase? (What time is the class?)
    -La clase es a las 10:00 a.m. (The class is at 10:00 a.m.)


If you want to learn to tell time in Spanish, visit our platform, where you can find hundreds of lessons and exercises to improve your Spanish.

Check out the free lesson: “La hora en español“.



5. Time as a verb: cronometrar

Finally, when measuring the time something takes, you should use the verb “cronometrar”.


  • El entrenador cronometró la carrera.
    The coach timed the race.
  • Voy a cronometrar mi rutina de hoy.
    I’m going to time my routine today.


Expressions of time


Here are some expressions that will be useful in your day-to-day conversation.



Also, we have some other expressions with the word “vez”.


If you want to continue improving your Spanish, remember that our services are available worldwide. I want to improve my Spanish!


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