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As an IT person, I quite frequently have to schedule availability based support calls with remote users. I'm looking for the grammatically correct way of asking this question:

Let me know when a good time for you to do a remote support session is.

I found this similar question that makes me think I could probably just say this:

When is a good time for you to do a remote support session?

But I don't think it emphasizes that I need a specific time returned to me rather than a generic "I'm usually available around lunch time" response. To accomplish this, do I have to expand on my question and break it down into sections?

I'd like to schedule a remote support session with you. Please tell me a date and time that you can be available to demonstrate the problem you encountered.

I also found a discussion on thefreedictionary.com where one of the users describes the difference between using the word "when" as opposed to the word "what". That user claims that "what" is much more specific and may be the word I should use. Here's one attempt at asking my question based around what that user said:

What is the best time to schedule a remote support session with you?

Frankly, I'm at a loss as to how to word this question. Every method I can think of just doesn't sound right to me and the last thing I want is for my question to be confusing to the people I'm trying to help.

Thanks, Fiernaq

closed as primarily opinion-based by Dan Bron, ScotM, Ellie Kesselman, tchrist, Centaurus Apr 27 '15 at 1:33

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I was hoping there would be some grammar rule that would tell me the correct way to say this but it looks like this area is indeed quite loose on rules and is primarily governed by opinion. I hope I didn't cause a problem with this post. – Fiernaq Apr 27 '15 at 20:46
  • I had a very similar phrase I disliked, and the non-accepted answer below helped me come up with a better one. Perhaps the question includes some degree of opinion, but I don't see why it needed to be closed. – djv Oct 29 '15 at 14:48
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No, you need "when":

I'd like to schedule a remote support session with you. Please tell me a date and time when you /can be/are/ available to demonstrate the problem you encountered.

I'd like to schedule a remote support session with you. Please tell me a date and time when you can demonstrate the problem you encountered.

Could you tell me when is a good time for you to /do/have/ a remote support session?

"Do" seems more casual than "have" to me in such contexts.

or, more questioning:

Could you tell me when is there a good time for you to /do/have/ a remote support session?

or, short:

Could we /schedule/define/ a remote support session?

Could we set a date and time for a remote support session?

  • "Could you tell me when is a good time..." sounds like two questions. I do like your point about "do" and "have" and I think that using "have" definitely fits my question better. The suggestion that made the most sense out of this group is the first one because it's clear what is being asked for without being more complex than necessary. My only concern is that it's still a very lengthy way to ask what seems like such a simple question. I'd love to see some other other options but you did provide a valid answer that I feel comfortable using so thanks! – Fiernaq Apr 23 '15 at 16:09
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You don't 'need' 'when'; ''what' is commonly used with expressions of time:

What is the time?

At what time shall we meet?

What is a good time for you to meet at B & N on Thursday afternoon?

If you can give of your time helping to maintain this wonderful space, please let us know what is a good time for you to get involved.

We can let you know what is a good time, and arrange to have some tactile and multi-sensory objects for you to investigate in the Roman hands-on area. {Canterbury Roman Museum}

It may sometimes sound informal, but is colloquial, and may sometimes even disambiguate:

He told me when the conference started. [may mean He told me at the time the conference started. or He told me at what time the conference started.]

Let me know when a good time for you to do a remote support session would be.

is fine.

Let me know what's / when's a good time for you to do a remote support session.

are both commonly used; grammatical traditionalists might argue for

Let me know: what is / when is a good time for you to do a remote support session?

But I bet none of them shrinks from using 'Let me know what's happening'.

Personally, I'd use your final suggestion.

  • The duality of meaning that can be present in some uses of the word "when" is precisely one of the concerns I had when trying to word this correctly even if I couldn't put my finger on why. Thanks for the excellent example that really shows that effect off. I'd mark your answer as helpful if I could :( – Fiernaq Apr 24 '15 at 12:45

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