Can you tell me which option is more natural in this English sentence?

I'm sorry to trouble you but I was wondering what

(A) time it is
(B) the time has been

The whole story is that this multiple-choice question comes from a placement test for a coursebook. The complete question is as follows

I’m sorry to trouble you but I was wondering what

(A) time it is
(B) the time has been
(C) is the time?
(D) was the time?

I excluded (C) and (D) as ungrammatical and chose (A) as the most natural-sounding to me, but the answer key says that the correct answer is (B), which doesn't sound right to me. Now I'm a little bit confused.

This coursebook is for the Polish market and I am Polish.

  • Well, one asks about the past, and one the present. What do you want to know about? Oct 21, 2012 at 17:30
  • 3
    NO! (B) What the time has been is the least acceptable of the lot. If you just want to know the time of day, (A) is what natives would say. (C) might be what somebody trying to sound pretentious might say, (D) might be said when reviewing a past event and trying to figure out what time it was when the event took place. and (B) might only make sense in the most bizarre set of contrived circumstances.
    – Jim
    Oct 21, 2012 at 18:32
  • Thank you very much for such a comprehensive answer. I have only recently stopped to believe in answer keys :-) ; I mean, I now try to view all the answers as possible constructions of events and that's why your explanation convinces me. Thank you.
    – ynglisz
    Oct 21, 2012 at 18:40
  • @Jim: Do you really think native speakers would say ‘I'm sorry to trouble you but I was wondering what time it is’? Oct 21, 2012 at 18:57
  • 2
    @ynglisz: was the question maybe asking you to choose the option that is not correct? That's the only scenario where "B" would be the correct answer.
    – Marthaª
    Oct 21, 2012 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


If you're asking the time, (A) is closer to what a native speaker might say, but it would be more likely to occur as . . . what the time is. However, because the first part of the sentence contains the past tense was, the second part would probably also be in the past tense: . . . what the time was.

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