English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

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

Every day Jack and Ted have about 5–15 minutes to go outside and play table tennis in the afternoon. As their free time varies each time (sometimes it's 5 minutes, sometimes 10, sometimes 15), they always agree before the game about how long their game is going to be. Though it's the time that is really limiting them, they still prefer to take their scoring in the game as their limiting factor (it's not a big problem for them if they finish one or two minutes before or after their free time is over). So, each time before the game Jack usually asks Ted,

  1. "What score are we playing until?"
  2. "Until what score are we playing?"
  3. "What score are we playing till?"
  4. "Till what score are we playing?"
  5. "What score will we play until?"
  6. "Until what score will we play?"
  7. "What score will we play till?"
  8. "Till what score will we play?"
  9. or... What question would you ask in this situation?
share|improve this question
If you really want to list all possible permutations, you should have a set using 'til (occurs everywhere, I think, but particularly in US). – FumbleFingers Apr 17 '11 at 13:59
@FumbleFingers: 'til is just a misspelling of till based on the incorrect assumption that it's younger than until. Make it go away, I say. – Jon Purdy Apr 18 '11 at 12:55
@Jon Purdy: I think misspelling is a little harsh. It's slowly working its way up from 'informal' to 'standard'. That whiff of informality, plus those who think it's just a misspelling, are all that's holding this great word back. It saves all the bother of worrying whether you should use until or till - which are effectively different words, despite having common ancestry. Anyway, 'til has always been around, and I don't think it's gonna go away. And I for one shan't mind if it does take over. – FumbleFingers Apr 18 '11 at 22:30
@brilliant: If Jack & Ted do this every day, pretty soon they'd just do the original negotiation over game duration in score points, rather than minutes (sorry - I know it's just a sample scenario). – FumbleFingers Apr 18 '11 at 22:36
@FumbleFingers - "soon they'd just do the original negotiation over game duration in score points, rather than minutes" - I don't understand what you are talking about. In my example they DO negotiate the game duration in score points every time. They don't negotiate minutes - how much free time they have each time is not up to them, so they can't negotiate the time. Plus, the free time they enjoy each time is different. – brilliant Apr 18 '11 at 22:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In America we'd most likely just say:

Play to 21?


We playing to 21?

Or substitute a number of your own, depending on the game.

share|improve this answer
I see. Thank you. – brilliant Apr 17 '11 at 15:34

How about: "What's the target score?"

share|improve this answer
"How about: "What's the target score?"" - Are you asking me? If I knew the answer I wouldn't post this question here :) Your suggestion, however, sparked another idea in me: "What's the final score?". What do you think? Or, perhaps, this question would suit better for a game that has already finished. – brilliant Apr 17 '11 at 23:48
I was asking what you think about that phrasing, since I can not recall a commonly used phrase and that seems right. "Final score" is more suitable for a completed game, as "latest score" is suitable for a game in progress. – Danny Apr 17 '11 at 23:54
"I was asking what you think about that phrasing, since I can not recall a commonly used phrase and that seems right" - Well, I like your phrasing and to me it sounds nice, but since I am not an English speaker, I may be wrong. Anyway, thank you for this suggestion and for the explanations on "final score". – brilliant Apr 18 '11 at 0:01

"What score are we playing to?" should be very easily understood.

share|improve this answer

I just remembered, usually "best n out of 2n-1" is used, where n is a natural number.

share|improve this answer
Please, give me example with a number, otherwise I don't understand. Also, would that be used as a question in that situation described above? – brilliant Apr 18 '11 at 7:54
Best 2 out of 3, 3 out of 5, 10 out of 19. It can be used as a declaration or as a suggestion. – Danny Apr 18 '11 at 8:02
Aaah, I see. Thank you. – brilliant Apr 18 '11 at 8:06

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.