Man: We're planning to leave for the trip at about 2:00
Woman: Couldn't we leave before noon?

Question: What does the woman ask?

A) If they could leave at noon
B) If it is possible to go by 12:00
C) Why they can't leave at noon
D) If they could leave the room

I think the answer is B but my teacher says it is D. Why?

  • 3
    I'm pretty sure you heard your teacher wrong. – ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq Jul 3 '14 at 4:37
  • Ask your teacher for an explanation then let us know what it is... D) is partially correct since you have to leave the room to go on the trip, though it does not mention the time, which was the key point in the question. – user3169 Jul 3 '14 at 4:54

The Man has a plan of leaving by 14:00hrs but the woman asks him "Couldn't we leave before Noon" which sounds like, 1. Why can't we start before Noon? & 2. What stops us from starting before Noon? & 3. Shall we start before Noon?

I personally don't find any options suitable to be similar to the context as they all (except D) mention 'At Noon' which is not 'Before Noon' the woman said.

Also, I second Maulik in the fact that Option D seems to be kind of 'Odd thing out'.


No matter what, "Couldn't we leave before noon?" simply means the speaker is asking to leave before the noon i.e. 12 o'clock.

Adding clarity to the context, the former sentence talks about leaving at 1400 hr. what the speaker thinks is quite late for some reason.

If your teacher says that the answer is 'D' i.e. if they could leave the room, the only possibility I see is the time that sentence is spoken is the moment to leave for the trip which must be before the noon (what the speaker is concerned about).

However, to me, option D is an odd thing out! :) That's the only option that does not speak about the time and that's what the question is all about!

Your teacher is the person to clear the air.

Fair chances - What distance you were at from the teacher! The pronunciation of 'D' is like 'B' (common -ee) when heard from far. The teacher might have told 'B' that sounded like 'D' to you.

  • 1
    Dates and times of day never take articles: 'before ∅ noon', 'at ∅ midnight', 'on ∅ Christmas day', 'during ∅ May', 'in ∅ 1942'. Ordinal components of a date or time may take the: "on August the twelfth", "at the twelfth hour", and a date or time may act as a modifier in an NP with an article at its head: 'the noon break', 'the midnight bell', 'a Christmas carol', 'the May Queen', 'the 1942 siege of Bataan'. – StoneyB Jul 3 '14 at 13:48
  • @StoneyB What about "Death in the afternoon" by Hemingway? – Maulik V Jul 3 '14 at 14:13
  • No, I am 100% sure my teacher said D) If they could leave the room (she even read the whole answer). She said that answer B) If it is possible to go by 12:00, would mean that they'd be leaving at 12:00... ps: keep in mind that both of us (my teacher and me) are not native English speakers – confusedstudent Jul 3 '14 at 15:18
  • 1
    Afternoon is not a point in time but a timespan. Indefinite timespans are less rigid; sometimes they are determinate and sometimes not: the afternoon always, except as an attributive, at ∅ night AND during the night. But named timespans take the null-determiner, during ∅ May, not during the May. – StoneyB Jul 3 '14 at 16:32

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