The scenario: We are outside of governmental office, and it's closed now. But it's understood that they're going to open it some-when soon but it's not understood exactly when. On the wall, near to the door, there's a small piece of metal in which the working hours are written on it. Now my friend looked at it already and I want to ask him about the times that remains, but I can use it at least in three types of tenses (and combinations of them as well):

How much time remains (or is left) till they open the office"? - present simple.

How much time remains (or is left) till they will open the office"? - future simple.

How much time remains (or is left) till they're opening the office"? - present progressive

How much time remains (or is left) till they're going to open the office?

Which of those should I use in the mentioned scenario?

  • 1
    The first version is perfectly natural. None of the others are. Alternatively, and at least as natural, ...until the office opens (who cares who opens it?). Dec 22, 2018 at 18:58
  • Thank you. Your choosing in "until" instead of "till" in this context was a personal matter of style or it's more natural in this context? Dec 22, 2018 at 19:04
  • When does it open? or How much longer til it opens?
    – TimR
    Dec 22, 2018 at 20:48
  • Essentially a personal stylistic choice - but per this NGram, given my intention was to choose the most common option, it seems I made the "right" choice. Dec 23, 2018 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


I don't think any of those are awkward because of the tense. "How much time remains" is wordy, and it does not work in all the tenses:

  • How much time remains until they open the office? Okay but sound oddly formal, don't use informal "'til" here
  • How long 'til they open the office? Better, until/'til both okay
  • When will they open the office?
  • When are they opening the office? Sounds like opening in the sense of starting a new business.
  • When are they going to open the office?
  • When do they open?
  • Thank you for your answer (^1+). Can you please me explain the last example please? (="When to they open?" Did you not mean to write "When DO they open?"? Dec 22, 2018 at 21:00
  • @Perplexedfolks yes, fixed typo. Dec 22, 2018 at 22:31
  • @Perplexedfolks Also: The answer to any "how long..." version will be a duration, but the answer to "when" could be a duration ("in an hour") or the time ("at 1 o'clock"). Dec 22, 2018 at 22:33
  • I disagree with [none] are awkward because of the tense. Even if we change the first component to the more common How long until / till / til..., all except the first version seem exceptionally "awkward" to me. Dec 23, 2018 at 14:15
  • @FumbleFingers My point was that the problem with the sentences in the question was not a grammatical issue with using different tenses to form the question. Dec 23, 2018 at 18:07

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