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Tiempo: It's Time to Learn

It's time to learn a little bit more about tiempo -- which is one way to express time in Spanish.


So, tiempo means "time" -- as in "a system used to place one event in relation to another (such as past vs. present, yesterday vs. today)" -- it also means, less abstractly, "period" -- as in "a span of time" (which could be minutes, hours, days, weeks...). For example, soccer fans getting online updates should note that a match consists of primer tiempo, entretiempo and segundo tiempo, often abbreviated as 1T, ET and 2T, respectively. Meanwhile, in English, we might speak of first period (or, more common in soccer, first half), half time and then the second half.

OK. Now let's spend a little time with the latest videos on Yabla Spanish. In one, we hear restaurant manager José Luis Calixto Escobar of Mexico speak of tiempos in the following sentence:


La comida sale económicamente porque contiene lo que son tres tiempos.

The food is cheap because it has what are three courses.

Caption 38, Fonda Mi Lupita - Encargado

 Play Caption


Outside of México, it may be more common to hear talk of una comida con tres platos (literally: "a meal with three plates") to describe "a three-course meal." Una comida en [o, de] tres tiempos describes the same idea. To illustrate, José goes on to describe a soup course, then a rice or pasta and then a meat plate. Yum. This menú -- another word used to describe a meal of many parts -- even comes with water. Completamente (That's José's oft-repeated verbal tic. Think: "totally" in English.)


Incidentally, flip comida de tres tiempos around, and you have los tres tiempos de comida -- that is, breakfast, lunch and dinner, or the three meals/mealtimes of the day. Note that comida not only means "food," but that it also can describe the time spent eating food -- i.e., a meal.


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