I understood this sentence as "it is an hour (too) early" - would that make sense?
Well that's kind of how we actually talk in every day life. Context has almost always already been established when we have conversations about things. This sentence isn't "incomplete".
There is a sentence with ,,um ano antes" in one of the lessons, I translated that one as ,,one year ago" and my translation was accepted. It is acceptable to translate it ,,it is almost one hour ago"? It's actually the same, in my opinion.
Yep, even they used the same word in portuguese. Literally we use like this: antes = before, atrás = ago. Dois anos atrás = two years ago. "Ago" is more frequently used with years, in portuguese it's mixed but most of time we also use atrás.
"It was almost one hour ago" implies that it has already happened. "E' quase uma hora antes" = "It is almost an hour before" which doesn't imply it already happened.
If you want to say "It was almost one hour ago", then say "Foi quase uma hora atra's.". I'm not sure if this is quite clear, so please ask again if it's not.
Plus, it also shows something that occured earlier than it was expected to. "The bus left five minutes earlier" = "o ônibus partiu/saiu cinco minutos antes"
When you are listening how do you know if speaker says 'um' or 'o' ? I cannot hear the difference
Do you have the option to listen at a slower speed? I need this quite often to identify small words that seem to be added on to others or rushed over at the normal speed.
Nope, it isn't. Behind is more about position. You know, above, beside, behind. That sentence is abou time, so you use earlier, before...
agreed that your analysis of english is correct. And after daylight savings, one often does say that the clock is an hour behind. In fact, it's the most normal way to say it, though you could also say that the clock is an hour slow.
However, running slow doesn't seem to be one of the possible meanings for the portuguese phrase.
"It's almost one hour behind" means almost the opposite. It means that it is almost an hour late, has been delayed by almost an hour. The sentence we were given says that something is expected about an hour from now.
In Portugal Portuguese at least, that's the way it is: use ser to describe chronological time (hours, days, months, years...) and not estar. We just have to remember it. If you really want to stretch the logic to justify this, then think about time as something that has "permanent" characteristics = everlasting and nothing or no one will change it, and no need or possibility to prove or disprove it. You'd be happy to use ser instead of estar if you agree with this, right?
Can it also mean, "about an hour before /ago" (a little more or a little less) or does it have to be "almost"?
I used about instead of almost and it was not accepted. Reported. About an hour would be said as as much as almost an hour
I made the translation 'It is almost one hour early' and got it wrong. Why should it be wrong and how would you express this idea in Portuguese?
Well, early is "cedo" for one.
Or, dozens of other PT words I've never seen before:
But let's explore the differences.
Let's say you are expecting a package that will arrive at 9am (09h00), so you get up at 8am which is an hour before.
But, in another case, the package actually arrives at 8am instead of 9am so the package (it) is an hour early.
Not sure about that... one hour ago would be "uma hora atrás". The reference point of atrás is now. Antes is before, in this context (both atrás and antes can also reference space) with a reference point that is also in the past, although the sentence here didn't provide that detail.