I usually ask people like this:

what time will your bus arrive?

But I recently found a language book shows the question should be asked like this:

what time does your bus arrive?

was I wrong?


Both question formats are equally idiomatic and equally acceptable.

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  • 1
    Agreed, but there can be a subtle difference if the reference is to a repeating or a one-time event. "What time does your newspaper arrive" asks when it usually comes. "When will your newspaper arrive" asks about the next single occurrence. – Jim Mack May 5 '14 at 15:07
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    Any two constructions can be differentiated in the correct context; but contexts for distinguishing these two question forms are very very rare in practice. People use both; often the same people at different times. This is a sociolinguistic question, not a grammatical one. – John Lawler May 5 '14 at 15:38

I'm adding a usage note I feel is important but not covered by the other answers.

"What time does your bus arrive?"

can be (and usually is) equivalent to

"What time will your bus arrive?"

but it can also have different connotations.

In the context of a discussion about relative commute times, does may indicate an ongoing scheduled arrival time instead of a particular future instance of a bus arriving.

For example, if we were talking about your general availability at work, "What time does your bus arrive?" can be taken to refer to the normal bus arrival time as scheduled by the transit company. In that case it may be distinct from will, which can reference different actual time.

Q: "What time does your bus arrive?"

A: "Normally it comes at 5:35. Because of the heavy traffic, though, today it will arrive closer to 5:45."

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Actually both looks alike. But it has minor difference in meaning. What time does your bus arrive ?Does-> means present tense what time will your bus arrive? will-> Future tense

The tenses always tense me :D

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  • It's perfectly normal in English to use the present "tense" to indicate a future action. You've actually done that in your answer ("Does → what time will your bus arrive?") – Andrew Leach Sep 5 '14 at 11:13
  • The present simple is also used to express future meaning. Due also to the poor formatting, this answer looks and is confusing. – Mari-Lou A Sep 5 '14 at 11:14

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