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Fill in the blank with appropriate preposition and give a reason:

What is the time _____ your watch?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The best and most correct choice for the blank is the prepositional phrase, according to:

What is the time according to your watch?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines according to as:

as stated by or in


If you only had one-word prepositions to choose from, then on would be your next best option, although I would not consider it as formal:

What is the time on your watch?

Also, using on is a loose way of saying:

What time has your watch?


You could also use by, although this usage is not common in this context:

What is the time by your watch?

One of the definitions of by, as given by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is:

concerning; according to

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I find What time has your watch? to be odd. I would say What time does your watch have?. –  mgkrebbs Mar 26 '11 at 21:02
    
@mgkrebbs: I was also going to include that as an alternative, but I figured it did not matter. Both are fine. What time has your watch? sounds smoother, in my opinion, and I'd be more likely to say that than the alternative ending with have. –  Jimi Oke Mar 26 '11 at 21:08
    
"What time has your watch?" is not AmE. Sounds a bit 'Harry Potter' to me (that is, sounds a bit British, but I can't tell if it's truly BrE or just scripted from the media) –  Mitch Mar 26 '11 at 23:09
    
@Mitch: Probably not, haha. Although I speak American English with a generic American accent now, I had a heavy British influence growing up, so traces still show. But I'm sure we'd both agree that neither sentence is common in regular conversation among native speakers. –  Jimi Oke Mar 27 '11 at 22:32
    
Yes, I agree. Between "What time has your watch?" and the transformed "What time does your watch have?", though both follow the normal rule-book rules, in AmE neither is preferred. But there are situations where an AmE would say the second: "I think my watch is slow...what time does -your- watch have?", and I can't think of any context where an AmE speaker would utter the first. –  Mitch Mar 27 '11 at 23:17
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Yes, the technically correct answer is "on," but the question itself is not idiomatic English. That is, you'd never see it in print or hear it spoken by a native speaker. More common would be:

  1. What time is it?
  2. What time does your watch say?
  3. Do you have the time?
  4. Can you tell me what time it is?
  5. What time does your watch have?
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Depends on what you are trying to say

What is the time on your watch?

would be the same as asking, "what time do you have?"

What is the time by your watch?

would, while sounding a little awkward, be specifying that I seek the time according to your watch rather than someone else's.

What is the time of your watch?

would, while also sounding awkward, be asking when the watch was made.

I expect you want the first one, though I might suggest you rephrase saying:

What time does your watch have?

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Very nice answer. –  Uticensis Mar 26 '11 at 18:24
    
I heard someone saying in a movie "you are late"in reply the guy said "not by my watch"what do you say now? –  aliya Mar 26 '11 at 18:29
    
As I mentioned above, "Not by my watch," means "Well, according to your watch I may be late, but according to my watch, I'm not late. The second guy was insisting on his promptness by suggesting his watch stated he was on time, though the first guy's watch may have been fast, indicating he was late. –  snumpy Mar 26 '11 at 18:42
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How about:

What is the time according to your watch?

That implies that you suspect that watch may disagree with someone else's (either because it is wrong, or the other watch is).

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You want "on." As in,

What is the time on your watch?

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