English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was talking with a friend about an event that was going to happen in the future. He asked me "What time?" referring, as I discovered after a while, to the day this event was going to happen.

I didn't know that "time" could be used instead of "day". I thought it could be used instead of "hour", or "minute", asking for the time of the event. But my friend meant to ask me the day.

Is this common usage? If two people are talking about something in the future, can one ask the other "what time", meaning the day of the event, not the actual time?

share|improve this question

No, I wouldn't use it that way. Time here refers to a specific time, and if I were asked the same question, I would assume the other person knew the date and was only interested in finding out the time of the meeting.

share|improve this answer

The question "What time?" could refer to the day of an event. One definition Merriam-Webster provides for time is:

the point or period when something occurs : occasion

Encyclopædia Britannica defines time as "a measured or measurable period." A [solar] day is a measured period and a fundamental unit of time, therefore the question "What time?," could refer to the date of an event.

It would, however, have been more appropriate for the question to use the word "when," or for the asker to have requested the specific unit of time (date) he desired to know.

share|improve this answer
Oh ok, it is used that way then...is it widely used? I have been in North America for a year and a half now and this was the first time I heard it. – Andrea Richiardi Mar 17 '13 at 20:33
I live in "the South" (not that that necessarily means anything). I have heard that before, however I do agree that it is unusual. I completely understand your confusion, as it would make far more sense for the asker to be more specific. – MisterCrazy8 Mar 17 '13 at 20:37
Thank you very much for confirming it, I was really stunned by this new "way" of asking the day :) – Andrea Richiardi Mar 17 '13 at 21:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.