Date and time notation in Spain

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In Spain, date notation follows the date, month, year date order. Time notation depends on the formality and varies in writing and speaking. Official time is given using the 24-hour clock, and the 12-hour clock is often used when speaking informally.


"Seis de diciembre de mil novecientos setenta y ocho" (formal, legal)
"Seis de diciembre del setenta y ocho"(informal, two-digit year abbreviation)

6 December 1978, date of the 1978 Spanish constitutional referendum

In Spain, the date order is invariably day, month, year. In abbreviated notation, Roman numerals are sometimes used for the month of the year and the years are either given with a length of one digit or two. Three symbols are in use for the separator: the stroke, the hyphen and sometimes the dot. The hyphen tends to be clearly long when handwritten.

Two-digit years are used for short mainly informally where no confusion arises, as in handwriting letters, notes and diaries. Official documents always use full four-digit years.

The suffixes for BCE and CE are "AC" (antes de Cristo, "before Christ") and "DC" (después de Cristo, "after Christ"), respectively. Sometimes "AD" for "Anno Domini" in Latin is used instead of "DC", but it is rare. "DC" is omitted commonly for years past 200 CE.

Leading zeroes are rare, more frequent in the month part when used: 21/04/1980 to allow tabulation, but 02/04/1980 is more typical of automated output, as in tickets, forms, etc.

Names of months and weekdays are written in lower case, thus being common nouns rather than proper nouns, except at start of a sentence, where they are capitalized following the Spanish rules. Exceptions are some highlighted Catholic dates, as Miércoles de Ceniza ("Ash Wednesday") or Domingo de Resurrección ("Resurrection Sunday"), which are always capitalized.

In Spanish, abbreviations for the month part are usually three letters long, to avoid confusion between marzo (March) and mayo (May), and between junio (June) and julio (July).

The week runs from Monday to Sunday. In Spanish, there exists a convention for single-letter day names: L means lunes (Monday), M means martes (Tuesday), X means miércoles (Wednesday), J means jueves (Thursday), V means viernes (Friday), S means sábado (Saturday) and D means domingo (Sunday). Basically, the initial letter of the weekday name, except for Wednesday which is an "X" to avoid confusion with Tuesday. Some public vehicles, as taxicabs, wear a letter meaning the driver's weekly day-off.


Common names for hours in Spanish
Time Hour name Common suffix
00:00 Las doce de la noche
01:00 La una de la madrugada
05:00 Las cinco
06:00 Las seis de la mañana
11:00 Las once
12:00 Las doce del mediodía
13:00 La una de la tarde
20:00 Las ocho
21:00 Las nueve de la noche
23:00 Las once

Official time is always given in 24-hour format. Traditional hour-minute separator is the dot (18.20), which still is in use in some environments as press, but today the colon is the preferred symbol (18:20). Leading zeroes for the hour part are optional (more common in automated output), but are mandatory for the minutes and the seconds parts, if the last appears (08:09:07). In speech, a time given in 24-hour format always is followed by the word horas: el concierto comenzará a las 15:30 "quince y treinta" horas ("the concert will start at 15:30").

Fractional seconds are given in decimal after a separator (dot, comma or apostrophe). For elapsed time, the notation with "h" for the hour counter, an apostrophe (') for the minutes and a double apostrophe (") for the seconds is also used, without trailing zeroes: 8h 7' 46" means "eight hours and seven minutes and forty-six seconds have elapsed". Sometimes an "m" and an "s" are used for the minutes and the seconds instead of the apostrophes: 8h 7m 46s.

Common names for minutes in Spanish
Time Hour name Common minutes name
00:00 Las doce en punto
00:05 y cinco
00:10 y diez
00:15 y cuarto
00:20 y veinte
00:25 y veinticinco
00:30 y media
00:35 La una menos veinticinco
00:40 menos veinte
00:45 menos cuarto
00:50 menos diez
00:55 menos cinco

In common spoken language, times are given in 12-hour clock. After midnight, hours are labeled de la madrugada ("at early"), which is used exclusively before sunrise, and de la mañana ("at morning"), which is used both before and after sunrise. A post meridiem hour is labeled de la tarde ("at afternoon") before sunset and de la noche ("at night") after sunset. The system for minutes is similar of that in English language, with the number of the hour said before the minutes; added (using y, meaning "and") to the hour if half or less, or substracted (using menos, meaning "minus") from the next hour if more than thirty minutes have passed from an exact hour, also using en punto (o'clock) at an exact hour, the quarter (cuarto) at fifteen and forty-five minutes, and the half (media) at thirty minutes.

There are no traditional ante meridiem and post meridiem suffixes in Spanish; "AM" and "PM" are used when writing 12-hour format time, with any variation: "A.M./P.M.", "am/pm", "a.m./p.m.", "a/p ", etc. Ante meridiem suffix is often omitted.