In questions that start with interrogative pronouns such as: what, when, and why, should they be stressed?

For example, is the word "time" stressed in the sentence? Is "What" stressed, too?

What time is it?

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    When I speak, if I'm using what or which as an interrogative pronoun, then I give it stress; if, however, I'm using it as an interrogative adjective, then I give stress to the noun modified by it instead. I think I usually give stress to when, why, while, and how.
    – Anonym
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 18:29
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    Related questions here and here.
    – Afsane
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 18:30
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    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 6:57

1 Answer 1


The word you would stress depends on what you mean.

What time is it?

Stressing "what" often means that you are confused about what time it is. Maybe you've been told two different things. Maybe you're shocked at what time someone just told you it was, and disbelieving your own ears, you're asking again.

What time is it?

This is how people generally say it when simply asking for the current time.

What time is it?

This tends to express that you have no idea whatsoever what time it currently is. People tend to stress "is" when they've lost track of time.

What time is it?

Stressing "it" means that you're not asking for the current time. Instead, you're asking for what time "it" is going to happen. For example, say that I'm talking with my friend about seeing the 8:00pm showing of Star Wars, but mention that there is a later showing. If my friend wanted to know the time of that later showing, he might ask, "What time is it?"

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    @Reza Hi, Reza, If the answer solved your problem, it would be nice if you could accept this answer by clicking on the check below the downvote mark on the left side of this answer.
    – user140086
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 7:53

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