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Units of Time

'Unidades de tiempo'


sundial in Zaragoza, Spain

Reloj solar en Zaragoza, España. (Sundial in Zaragoza, Spain.)

Photo by Juandc.com; licensed via Creative Commons.

Need to know how to refer to a particular unit of time? Here are the most common ones in Spanish, listed from the shortest period of time to the longest:

  • el nanosegundo — nanosecond
  • el microsegundo — microsecond
  • el milisegundo — millisecond
  • el segundo — second
  • el minuto — minute
  • la hora — hour
  • el díaday
  • la semana, el septenario — week
  • la quincena — fortnight, two weeks (The Spanish term sometimes refers to a 15-day period or a half-month.)
  • el mesmonth
  • el semestre — six months, half-year (The Spanish term can also refer to an academic semester.)
  • el año — year
  • el lustro — five years
  • el decenio, la década — 10 years, decade
  • el siglo — century
  • el milenio — millennium
  • el cron — million years
  • el eón — thousand million years, billion years in U.S. English (The Spanish term also can refer to an indefinitely long period of time.)
In addition, Spanish has a number of units of time that are seldom used, or are used in specific contexts. For example, bimestre and trimestre, are two-month and three-month periods, respectively, with similar month groupings possible. Similarly, bienio and septenio are two- and seven-year perdiods of time, respectively, with other groupings possible.

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