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How to say “o’clock” in Spanish

Let’s learn some new Spanish nouns and idioms, including the idioms for “o’clock”, “in the first place”, and “that makes sense”.

Full Podcast Episode


¿De veras?

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to keep practicing the verbs Necesitar, Mirar, and Vivir, as well as our new numbers from yesterday. While we do, we’ll learn a few new nouns and idioms.

Let’s actually start with an idiom that’s easy to use along with our numbers. In English, when we’re talking about the time, sometimes we say, for example, “at four”, but sometimes we say “at four o’clock”. The idiom for “o’clock” in Spanish is en punto. So it’s very common simply to say a las cuatro, but it’s also common to say a las cuatro en punto. For example:

I went to a party at five o’clock.

Fui a una fiesta a las cinco en punto.

Another idiom that uses words we already know is en primer lugar, which means “in the first place”; this is often used figuratively, the same way we use “in the first place” in English. For example:

There are several problems. In the first place, your family isn’t there.

Hay algunos problemas. En primer lugar, tu familia no está allí.

Notice that we don’t say en el primer lugar, we just say en primer lugar.

Another common idiom is puede ser, which literally means “it might be”. This is very often used to say that something might be true, but the word for “truth” is left off. Here’s an example:

Could be… let me think about this.

Puede ser… déjame pensar en esto.

Let’s practice these three new idioms.

In this first example, you’ll see Ser used to describe when something is happening. In describing an event, it’s common to use Ser to refer to when it is. Try to predict the Spanish:

In the first place, the party is at one o'clock.

En primer lugar, la fiesta es a la una en punto.

Don’t look at him! Does he know that you live there?

¡No lo mires! ¿Sabe que vives ahí?

In the first place, we live there and we can do it.

En primer lugar, vivimos ahí y podemos hacerlo.

Could be, he knows I look at that every day.

Puede ser, sabe que miro eso todos los días.

I don’t know if we have to be there at four o’clock.

No sé si tenemos que estar ahí a las cuatro en punto.

In the first place, we have to be ready at seven o’clock.

En primer lugar, tenemos que estar listos a las siete en punto.

Could be, do you know if they need us to be here at five o’clock?

Puede ser, ¿sabes si necesitan que estemos aquí a las cinco en punto?

All right, now for some more fun vocabulary. The word for “word” is palabra. For example:

I don’t know how to say this word in Spanish.

No sé cómo decir esta palabra en español.

I know five new words.

Yo sé cinco palabras nuevas.

The word for “plan” is plan, spelled exactly like the English word. This is a masculine noun. For example:

First we need to have a plan.

Primero necesitamos tener un plan.

Incidentally, the word plan is an example of something we call a “cognate” — a word that is very similar or identical to its equivalent between languages. As we go further and further down the frequency list, we’ll encounter more and more cognates, which will make learning more vocabulary really easy.

Our next noun is recuerdo, which means “memory”, but specifically in the sense of a distinct memory, not the general idea of how well you remember things. For example:

I have a very good memory of going to that place.

Tengo un muy buen recuerdo de ir a ese lugar.

Let’s practice palabra, plan, and recuerdo. We’re going to use some kind of lengthy sentences to get some nice challenging practice; try your best to guess all the Spanish for each one.

They live far away now, but we still have a good memory.

Viven lejos ahora, pero igual tenemos un buen recuerdo.

I found out how to say that word when I was living there.

Supe cómo decir esa palabra cuando estaba viviendo ahí.

It’s not a good plan, but I know it had to do with his memories.

No es un buen plan, pero sé que tenía que ver con sus recuerdos.

Do you have a plan for when we tell her those four words?

¿Tienes un plan para cuando le digamos esas cuatro palabras?

Our next word is sentido, which means “sense”. This word is used a lot like the English word sense in many ways. Here are a couple of examples that are very different from each other:

In that sense, he’s more than a friend.

En ese sentido, es más que un amigo.

I don’t know the words for the five senses.

No sé las palabras para los cinco sentidos.

One of the most common ways to use this word, just like in English, is to say that something “makes sense” or “doesn’t make sense”. However, in Spanish, instead of using the verb for “make”, we use Tener, the verb for “have”. For example:

Yes, that makes sense.

Sí, eso tiene sentido.

So literally, “yes, that has sense”.

Also note that this is always used to refer to whether the idea makes sense, not whether a person is making sense. In English we often say things like "you aren't making any sense", but that would never translate literally to Spanish; it would always be eso no tiene sentido, never tú no tienes sentido.

Our next word is culpa, which means “blame” or “fault”. For example:

It’s my fault.

Es mi culpa.

Here’s a more elaborate example:

It’s my sister’s fault.

Es culpa de mi hermana.

This structure sounds a bit odd to English-speaking ears but it’s very common in Spanish — literally “it’s fault of my sister”. Try it yourself in this next one.

It was my friend’s(m) fault.

Fue culpa de mi amigo.

Another common way to use this word follows a different structure, saying that someone “has” the fault or blame for something. So notice the use of Tener in this next example:

My family is to blame.

Mi familia tiene la culpa.

Let's practice culpa and sentido.

It didn’t make sense, he was living far away from home.

No tenía sentido, vivía muy lejos de casa.

It’s our fault, but we need you to do that for us.

Es nuestra culpa, pero necesitamos que hagas eso por nosotros.

It makes sense, she does that because it was her fault.

Tiene sentido, hace eso porque fue su culpa.

Our next word is an odd one: The word veras, spelled v-e-r-a-s. This means something like “truths”. This is a plural feminine noun, and it’s basically never found in the singular. And really you’ll almost exclusively encounter this word in idiomatic phrases, including the very common idiom de veras, which means “really”. Of course, we’ve already learned de verdad to mean “really”; de veras is used more specifically in exclamations of surprise, whereas de verdad is more general-purpose. Here’s an example:

Really?? Your friend(f) isn’t here yet?

¿De veras? ¿Tu amiga no está aquí todavía?

Our last word is cuenta, spelled c-u-e-n-t-a. This word can be used in a wide variety of ways.

At its most basic level, cuenta means “account”. For example:

Wait a moment, let me look at the account.

Espera un momento, déjame ver la cuenta.

But this applies beyond what we strictly call an “account” in English; it can also refer to pretty much anything that can have a balance, such as a bill, or what we call a “check” in a restaurant (which is also really a bill). So for example:

He got unwell upon seeing the bill.

Se puso mal al ver la cuenta.

Let’s practice de veras and cuenta.

Can you give us the bill? We have to leave.

¿Nos puedes dar la cuenta? Tenemos que irnos.

It’s all the same to me if you want that account, I don’t want it.

Me da igual si quieres esa cuenta, yo no la quiero.

Really? You have five accounts? How did you do it?

¿De veras? ¿Tienes cinco cuentas? ¿Cómo lo hiciste?

Now, we have to keep talking about cuenta a little bit, because this word is used in some very common idioms that don’t seem to have anything to do with an “account”. For example, when you want to talk about “pretending” that something is the case, you can use the idiom hacer de cuenta, literally “make of account”. Here’s an example:

He pretends that he’s not my brother.

Hace de cuenta que no es mi hermano.

This is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s not too hard once you’ve said it a few times; the main trick is just to conjugate Hacer, and then to say de cuenta que. Try it yourself in this next example.

We pretended that we were in a very big city.

Hicimos de cuenta que estábamos en una ciudad muy grande.

Our last idiom is even trickier: It’s the Spanish term for “realizing” something. See if you can make any sense of this sentence:

Afterwards I realized that she had my things.

Después me di cuenta de que ella tenía mis cosas.

OK, that’s a lot of words. Literally, “afterwards, I gave myself account of that she had my things”. Después me di cuenta de que ella tenía mis cosas.

So the official idiom here is darse cuenta de que, literally “to give oneself account of that” and so on. This is how you talk about “realizing” something in Spanish, as in finding out that it’s the case. So for example, “she realizes” would be se da cuenta de que.

So to use this idiom, you not only have to conjugate the verb Dar, you also have to use the right reflexive pronoun before it. And then you’re going to use cuenta de que, and then finally whatever the person is realizing.

Try it yourself with a pretty simple example:

We realize that this is a good house.

Nos damos cuenta de que esta es una buena casa.

Now we’ll try modifying it a little bit. Try to guess the Spanish of this variation:

Did you realize that this is a good house?

¿Te diste cuenta de que esta es una buena casa?

Idioms like this take a lot of practice to get used to, so let’s get a bunch of practice with both hacer de cuenta and darse cuenta de que.

He pretends he has seven cars.

Hace de cuenta que tiene siete autos.

I realized that we had already talked about that.

Me di cuenta de que ya habíamos hablado de eso.

I pretend I don’t see it.

Hago de cuenta que no lo veo.

We realized we didn't want to live in that place.

Nos dimos cuenta de que no queríamos vivir en ese lugar.

We pretended we were looking at him.

Hicimos de cuenta que lo estábamos mirando.

They realized I didn't want to look at that.

Se dieron cuenta de que no quería mirar eso.

I’m not sure(f), but I think he realized we talked with them.

No estoy segura, pero creo que se dio cuenta de que hablamos con ellos.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/124. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

They need to realize that they always look at her.

Tienen que darse cuenta de que siempre la miran.

I used to live with him, but now he lives around here.

Yo vivía con él, pero él ahora vive por aquí.

We’re going to need you to do it because you are to blame.

Vamos a necesitar que lo hagas porque tienes la culpa.

He’s very sure of himself because he has lived there.

Es muy seguro de sí mismo porque ha vivido ahí.

Do they really want you to look at those things?

¿De veras quieren que mires esas cosas?

We’re going to pretend he needs our help.

Vamos a hacer de cuenta que necesita nuestra ayuda.

Do you really want her to live there?

¿De veras quieres que viva ahí?

Could be; I need to think about it.

Puede ser, necesito pensarlo.

Really? Are you sure(m) they are to blame?

¿De veras? ¿Estás seguro de que ellos tienen la culpa?

I need you all to look at it and talk among yourselves.

Necesito que lo miren y hablen entre sí.

I’m going to pretend I know that word.

Voy a hacer de cuenta que sé esa palabra.

Look at me! Do you want me to live there?

¡Mírame! ¿Quieres que viva ahí?

In the first place, they were good memories but now I live here.

En primer lugar, fueron buenos recuerdos pero ahora vivo aquí.

You did it six times, it doesn’t make sense.

Lo hiciste seis veces, no tiene sentido.

Why are you watching that? I needed your help.

¿Por qué miras eso? Necesitaba tu ayuda.

They have problems among themselves, they only said four words.

Tienen problemas entre sí, solo dijeron cuatro palabras.

Could be… do you think they realized I wasn’t present?

Puede ser… ¿crees que se dieron cuenta de que yo no estaba?

In that sense, I really needed six of those things.

En ese sentido, de veras necesitaba seis de esas cosas.

We don’t want him to look at the bill.

No queremos que mire la cuenta.

We have a lot of good memories and that’s why he looks at me like that.

Tenemos muchos buenos recuerdos y por eso me mira así.

There are seven people who want to be part of that account.

Hay siete personas que quieren ser parte de esa cuenta.

Being there at five o’clock is part of the plan? Really?

¿Estar ahí a las cinco en punto es parte del plan? ¿De veras?

Look, we have to realize they have a plan.

Mira, tenemos que darnos cuenta de que tienen un plan.

In the first place, we have to think about that.

En primer lugar, tenemos que pensar en eso.

We lived there three years ago, what do you need?

Vivimos ahí hace tres años, ¿qué necesitas?

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/124, or tune in tomorrow for a big quiz to recap everything we’ve learned this week.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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