I want to point the time as a time the watch and not the absurd meaning of time itself.

Are there any setting in the time itself, so that I can say in time?

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    What question do you ask? If your question is idiomatic, the person or persons responding badly are at fault. Please edit your post and include the sentence you think is the right way to ask someone for the time.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 11, 2023 at 9:08
  • Just making the distinction clearer: "The time is 6 p.m." means that the time as observed by your watch is 6 p.m. "Time is 6 p.m." means that the concept of time itself is somehow 6 p.m. which is absurd. Dec 11, 2023 at 16:26
  • Fyi, we say: time on a watch, or as given on a watch.
    – Lambie
    Dec 11, 2023 at 19:43
  • I'm not sure I understand the question. Is the title supposed to be something like ' "What's the time in your watch?" - Can I say this if I'm talking about the time?' Or better yet, 'Can I say "What's the time in your watch?" if I'm talking about the time?' And what do you mean by "absurd"? Are you thinking of "abstract"? Edit: Oh actually, I might have accidentally corrected an important mistake: "What's time?" and "What's the time?" are very different questions.
    – wjandrea
    Dec 11, 2023 at 21:39
  • I can't remember the last time someone stopped me in the street to ask me what time it was. The every young are unable to read the 12 hour clock (in Italy at least). Who wears watches any more, maybe if you're 50 or want to wear an invaluabe time piece otherwise watches are outdated. The times they're a-changing
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 11, 2023 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


Additional possibilities:

What time is it? (ask someone to tell you the time of day)

What does your watch say? (ask someone to tell you the time on their watch, perhaps to compare your watch to theirs; it could be that yours has stopped or has become inaccurate for some reason)

NOTE: "say" doesn't mean it is a talking watch. We can use "say" about many things from which we get information:

What does the map say?

What does the train schedule say?

What do the instructions say?

What do the gauges say?

What does the odometer say?

The verb say in such uses is colloquial.

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    As for comparing your watch to theirs, I would ask "What time do you have?"
    – Tashus
    Dec 11, 2023 at 16:13
  • @Tashus It doesn't really convey the notion that you don't trust your own watch unless you put some emphasis on "you". "What time do you have?" Without such emphasis, you could say it to someone even if you didn't have a watch on you. Dec 11, 2023 at 16:23
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    True. I might say it even without my own dubious source of time. However, I would definitely say it if I were doubting my watch. I just thought it might add to the completeness of the answer.
    – Tashus
    Dec 11, 2023 at 17:20

When you ask "What's the time?" the response might be "Five o'clock".

When you ask "What is time?" the response is absurd. (*)

You can ask "What's the time on your watch?" if you want to check their watch with your watch, but usually you don't need to add "on your watch".

* Time the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present and into the future.

  • 3
    I think "by your watch" would be more common there. Dec 11, 2023 at 7:07
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    People used to say 'what time do you have?'. Dec 11, 2023 at 9:07
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    @MichaelHarvey I concur, “what time do you have“, on your watch implied, is colloquial in at least in New England and the Midwest of the USA. Might be pronounced wuh taym'yuh got in some of those places
    – djs
    Dec 11, 2023 at 16:34
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    @djs - with modern digital technology it is likely that everybody has the same time. In old British war movies, the commandos, bomber crews, etc would be ordered to 'synchronize watches'. Clockwork ones. Dec 11, 2023 at 17:23
  • I hesitated over "by" or "on your watch". I thought of including both, but decided that considering the low level of the OP, that picking one would be clearer.
    – James K
    Dec 11, 2023 at 18:07

There are two very different questions:

  • "What is time?" - the "absurd" question, really a question about philosophy or physics
  • "What is the time?" - asking someone what their watch says

This pattern repeats:

  • "What is weather?" - a question about meteorology
  • "What is the weather?" - asking if it is sunny or raining


  • "What is temperature?" - a question about meteorology
  • "What is the temperature?" - asking if it is hot or cold


  • "What is price?" - a question about economics
  • "What is the price?" - asking how much something costs

In every case, without "the", it is a question about an abstract idea, with with "the", it is a question about something simple.

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