a. what time do you make it? — I make it six o'clock

Would you show me what this sentence means?

Meanwhile, I am wondering what "it" refers to, as well.

  • 1
    What time to you make it (to be)? = What time is it? There are other ways of asking and telling the time. The it in both sentences is a dummy it. See dummy or empty it. This is similar to It is raining.
    – user6951
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 11:13
  • "o'clock" is only used after a number as in 9 o'clock. You don't say "What o'clock is it?", you say "What time is it?".
    – rogermue
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 13:24
  • 1
    @rogermue I've encountered this o'clock usage before. Usually in novels set in Victorian or earlier Britain.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 13:28
  • 1
    I believe that "making out the time" comes from a bygone era when there were no accurate timepieces and people had to make their own estimation of the time from the position of the sun, stars, etc. Thus there might be room for discussion between two people as to what time they make it to be. But this is just speculation- I've done no research on it.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


There are different ways of asking somebody about the the time. A few example are as follows:

What's the time?

What time is it?

What time do you have?

What time do you make it? It's BE. What o'clock do you make it? sounds wrong.

  • "What time do you have?" always sounds like a non-native's literal translation to me. Native English don't really use it, to my knowledge. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 16:22
  • 4
    @Tetsujin Not so. I'm a native AmE speaker and I've both heard "What time do you have?" and used it myself, typically when a more formal register is called for (e.g. asking an important-looking stranger in an unfamiliar place).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 16:55
  • might be a Br E/Am E difference - one of many ;) Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 17:30

Probably It is referring to something said before in the context.Like John makes dinner at six o'clock which means John makes dinner at clock 6 . Make it also means:

1 : Succeed

2 : Stay alive

3 : "Get out of it"

4 : Arrive on the time

I may also be wrong. Let's wait for the professional speakers.


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