Suppose Friend A is on the train and has a phone call with Friend B. So Friend B wants to know when Friend A will arrive. What is the right way to ask?

  1. When are you arriving?
  2. When do you arrive?
  3. When are you going to arrive?
  4. What time do you arrive?
  5. Something else...?
  • 2
    1 to 4 are all OK. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 19:50
  • 1 and 3 are asking for a prediction, 2 and 4 are asking about a schedule. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 20:42
  • 1
    0 (the one in the title but not in the numbered list - explicit future When will you arrive?) is also okay, obviously. And in fact is almost certainly more common than all the rest put together. I can't see that distinguishing "prediction" / "schedule" means anything here. To all intents and purposes, they all mean the same, since they could and would all be used by a speaker seeking the same information. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 0:02
  • Plus there's When will you be arriving? And every When...? could be duplicated with What time...?, and vice-versa. Plus my normal What's your ETA? and doubtless others. I'm not sure I see the point of this question. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 0:07
  • similar to ell.stackexchange.com/questions/108846/… and there is more context there
    – banan3'14
    Commented Jan 11 at 6:24

1 Answer 1


All four are correct and natural, but they create their meaning in different ways.

In (1), the present continuous indicates something planned, like a train trip.

In (2) and (4), the simple present indicates something that happens on a schedule, like the arrival time of a train. "When" is functionally the same as "What time" in this context.

In (3), "be going to" simply indicates the future, without any other nuance like plans or schedules, and it describes Friend A, who is going to arrive in the future.

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