Times of the Day

Phrases for Using When an Exact Time Need Not Be Specified

Mexico City at night
De noche en la Ciudad de México. (Mexico City at night.). Photo by Luis Camargo; licensed via Creative Commons.

Although you sometimes need to be precise when talking about times, often an approximation will do. Thus, at the most basic, we can talk about la mañana (morning), la tarde (afternoon or evening) and la noche (night).

Here, roughly in ascending order, are some other common words or phrases for times of the day, including the prepositions that are often used with them:

  • por la mañana temprano — in early morning (Correr por la mañana temprano puede ser una excelente opción. Running in the early morning can be an excellent choice. Note that here temprano functions as an adverb. It isn't an adjective, in which case the feminine form temprana would have to be used.)
  • al amanecer — at dawn (¿Por qué cantan los gallos al amanecer? Why do roosters crow at dawn?)
  • de madrugada — at dawn (Un terremoto de 5,6 grados de magnitud sacude de madrugada. An earthquake of magnitude 5.6 shook at dawn.)
  • a la hora de desayunar — at breakfast time (El error más común que cometen las personas a la hora de desayunar es comer los alimentos típicos para el desayuno, de los cuales están altamente procesados y cargados de azúcar. The most common mistake people make at breakfast time is to eat typical breakfast food, which is highly processed and loaded with sugar.)
  • por la mañana — in the morning (Somos un poco más altos por la mañana que por la noche. We're a little bit taller in the morning than late in the day.)
  • a media mañana — in midmorning (A media mañana estará restituido el servicio eléctrico en zona norte. Electrical service will be restored in the north zone in midmorning.)
  • a mediodía, al mediodía — at noon, in the middle of the day (El euro sube hasta 1,25 dólares a mediodía. The euro climbed to $1.25 at noon.)
  • a la hora de almorzar — at lunchtime (El restaurante nuevo es una muy buena alternativa a la hora de almorzar en el centro de Santiago. (The new restaurant is a good alternative for lunchtime in downtown Santiago.)
  • a la hora de comer — at mealtime, at lunchtime (Las batallas con los más pequeños a la hora de comer pueden ser un estrés para toda la familia. Battles with the littlest ones at mealtime can be stressful for the entire family.)
  • a la hora de merienda, en la merienda — at tea time, in midafternoon (A la hora de merienda prueba estas deliciosas barras de chocolate. Try these delicious chocolate bars in the afternoon.)
  • de día — in the daytime (Durante los seis meses de día en el polo, el Sol se mueve continuamente cerca del horizonte. During the six months of daytime at the pole, the sun moves continually near the horizon.)
  • durante el día — in the daytime (¿Qué frutas debo comer durante el día para tener energía? What fruits should I eat during the day in order to have energy?)
  • por la tarde — in the afternoon or evening (Una siesta por la tarde podría mejorar su inteligencia. A rest in the afternoon could improve your intelligence.)
  • al anochecer — at dusk (Cinco planetas serán visibles al anochecer. Five planets will be visible at dusk.)
  • al atardecer — at dusk (Navegar por el Tajo al atardecer es una de las experiencias más románticas que se pueden disfrutar en Lisboa. Boating the Tajo at dusk is one of the most romantic experiences you can enjoy in Lisbon.)
  • a la hora de cenar — at dinnertime (No busques la tranquilidad a la hora de cenar. Don't look for quiet at dinnertime.)
  • por la noche, por las noches — at night, in late evening. (Despertarse por la noche no es considerado un problema para todas las familias del mundo. Waking up at night isn't considered a problem for every family.)
  • de noche — at night, in the late evening (Soy de las que va a eventos sociales, sobre todo de noche. I am one of those who goes to social events, especially at night.)
  • a la medianoche — at midnight (Al llegar a Nueva York a la medianoche, voy a viajar a Washington. After arriving at New York at midnight, I'm going to travel to Washington.)


Sources: Sample sentences are adapted from a variety of sources that include Taringa, ABC.es Runfitners.com, National Geographic, Ví Orgánica, AstroAfición, Aire de Santa Fe (Argentina), Facebook conversations, Su Nuevo Bebé, TripAdvisor.co (Colombia), T13 (Chile), Wikipedia and Listindiario.com.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Times of the Day." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/times-of-the-day-3079224. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, March 2). Times of the Day. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/times-of-the-day-3079224 Erichsen, Gerald. "Times of the Day." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/times-of-the-day-3079224 (accessed January 16, 2018).