Can you please tell me if I need to use a or the in the context below?

Can you give me an exact time you'll arrive.

Can you give me the exact time you'll arrive.

I thought that the was the only correct article in the context, but I've heard native speakers use a as well.

Does a convey a slight difference in meaning there?

1 Answer 1


With the definite article the, the questioner is speaking of the arrival time as something that is already decided, which they want know.

With the indefinite article an, the questioner is thinking of arrival time as something to establish and agree to between the two of them.

In ordinary speech, it's a fine distinction, and either article could be used.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .