Grammar Guide
What Does "Tiempo" Mean?

What Does "Tiempo" Mean?

Quick Answer

The Spanish word tiempo can mean the following:

  • weather
  • time

Sometimes it can be difficult to use this word correctly, ¡pero no te preocupes! (but don't worry!) In this article, we'll show you all of the different meanings tiempo has in Spanish.

Using Tiempo to Describe Weather

tiempo article One of the most common translations of tiempo is weather. Typically, we use tiempo to refer to temporary weather conditions, as shown in the examples below:

¿Qué tiempo hace hoy? - Está lloviendo.
What's the weather like today? - It's raining.
Siempre hace buen tiempo aquí en el verano.
The weather here is always good in the summertime.
¿Cómo está el tiempo en Londres hoy?
What is the weather like in London today?

Note that if you want to speak more broadly about weather conditions, the word clima (weather or climate) is often a better choice. For example:

El clima es muy húmedo aquí todo el año.
The weather here is very humid all year long.
No podría vivir en el norte porque tiene un clima tan frío.
I could not live in the north because it has such cold weather.

Have you noticed that tiempo is often used with the Spanish verb hacer (to do, to make)? Keep in mind that this verb is always paired with nouns in weather expressions, such as hace sol (it's sunny) or hace viento (it's windy). ¡Ojo! (Watch out!) If you use the verb estar (to be), be sure to always use it with an adjective or participle, such as está nublado (it's cloudy) or está lloviendo (it's raining).

Using Tiempo as a Unit of Time

Tiempo also translates to time in English. When used in this sense, it refers to time in a general or abstract sense, rather than a specific occasion or time of day. Depending on the context, it can also translate to moment or day. Check out the following examples:

¿Cuánto tiempo necesitas para prepararte?
How much time do you need to get ready?
Me tomó bastante tiempo completar la tarea.
It took me quite a lot of time to complete the homework.
¿Tienes tiempo para discutir el asunto?
Do you have a moment to discuss the matter?
En aquellos tiempos, la vida era mucho más fácil.
In those days, life was so much easier.

Here are some common phrases Spanish speakers use that contain the word tiempo when it's used to talk about time:

hacer tiempo
to fill the timeMientras estás trabajando, voy a la biblioteca para hacer tiempo.While you're working, I'll go to the library to fill the time.
al mismo tiempo
at the same timeNo puedo leer y escuchar música al mismo tiempo.I can't read and listen to music at the same time.
sacar tiempo
to make timeAunque tengo un calendario apretado, voy a sacar tiempo para verte.Even though I have a busy schedule, I'm going to make time to see you.
a tiempo
on timeEs importante que llegues a tiempo porque el espectáculo empieza a las seis en punto.It's important that you arrive on time because the show starts at six o'clock sharp.
pasar tiempo
spend timeSu actividad favorita es pasar tiempo con sus amigos.Her favorite activity is to spend time with friends.
tiempo libre
spare time; free timeLa directora ejecutiva siempre se queja de que no tiene tiempo libre.The CEO always complains that she has no free time.
hace tiempo
a long time ago; a while agoMiguel se fue hace tiempo porque tuvo una emergencia familiar.Miguel left a while ago because he had a family emergency.
medio tiempo; a tiempo completo
part-time; full-time¿Prefieres trabajar medio tiempo o a tiempo completo?Do you prefer to work part-time or full-time?

Other Translations of "Time" in Spanish

¡Cuidado! (Careful!) Many learners of Spanish make the mistake of using tiempo as a translation of time without thinking about the context. Here are some common Spanish words that can also mean time, along with an example so that you understand when to use these alternatives:

time of day¿Tienes la hora? - Sí, son las tres.Do you have the time? - Yes, it's three o'clock.
occasion¿Te acuerdas de aquella vez que el carro se averió a media carretera?Do you remember the time that the car broke down in the middle of the highway?
point in timeEn este momento, pedimos que todos los pasajeros se dirijan a la puerta de embarque 7.At this time, we ask that all passengers proceed to Gate 7.
eraEn aquella época, las personas tuvieron que usar libros para hacer investigación porque el Internet no existía.In that time, people had to use books to do research because the Internet didn't exist.

Looking to learn more about telling time and other related expressions in Spanish? Check out these articles:

Other Uses of Tiempo

Even though the uses of tiempo mentioned above are the most common, it can take on some other meanings, depending on the context. Check out the table below:

musictempoEs difícil tocar esta canción en el piano porque el tiempo es muy rápido.It's difficult to play this song on the piano because the tempo is very fast.
linguisticstense¿Puedes conjugar este verbo en el tiempo del pretérito?Can you conjugate this verb in the preterite tense?
sportshalf, period or quarterEspero que Barcelona se ponga a la cabeza en el segundo tiempo.I hope that Barcelona takes the lead in the second half.