What time <are you><do you> open (on Saturday)?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by lrosa, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    << This thread began as an off-topic but almost on-topic topic in <Are you><Do you> open 24 hours? >>

    That's interesting. I presume this is a difference between American and Irish English, but if I said "What time are you open on Saturday?" I would mean "At what time do you open on Saturday?" If I wanted to know the space of time, I would have to say "What times are you open on Saturday?" We would hardly ever leave out the on from "on Saturday".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2009
  2. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    That must be a difference. Well, two differences. We can leave out the on, and What time are you open?, at least to me, refers to space of time. I'd expect an answer like 9-5. :)
     
  3. BODYholic Senior Member

    Singapore
    Chinese Cantonese
    It is wrong to say "What time do you open on Saturday?". Thanks.
     
  4. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    No, it's not wrong. What I said above is that you can omit "on," meaning you can also say it. It is optional in that context (for American English). :)
     
  5. BODYholic Senior Member

    Singapore
    Chinese Cantonese
    Thanks brian8733. I've learned something new. :)
     
  6. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    Actually I would probably expect a similar answer, but simply because people generally tell you the complete opening hours (opening and closing times) in such situations, just to be helpful! The actual question itself, though, would not have the same meaning for me as for you
     
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    A little historical note on this subject. In 1966 the first super market (food store) in New York that stayed open 24 hours appeared in the city of Syracuse.

    They had a very hard time expressing that same concept: Staying open for 24 hours.

    The first sign said (as I recall): Open 24 hours.

    (It was clear enough, you'd think, but since the concept was so new it was believed that sign was error.)

    They added a second sign: Open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

    (Even clearer, you'd think, but still not clear enough.)

    Finally they put up a sign that was understood: We never close.


    Communicating unconventional concepts can be difficult.
     
  8. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    Thanks for that, Packard!! :D

    Actually, Brian, I now believe that "What time are you open on Saturday?" can only really mean what I think it means, because in this question are you not really asking "(At) what time are you open on Saturday?"
    Obviously the question can't survive without the implication of a preposition such as "at", because otherwise you would be using "time" as an object... The only thing I can imagine is that you might take the question to mean "(For) what time are you open on Saturday?" but I think this would have to be rephrased as "For what period of time are you open on Saturday?" to be clear. Is it not true that the word time in this context refers to a specific moment in time, rather than a period of time?
     
  9. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I think for me "what time" in both sentences means the same as "when."
     
  10. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    But doesn't when refer to a specific moment in time, rather than a period of time?
     
  11. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    Just to throw in a question about "What times are you open on Saturday?". Why is what being used?

    When are you open on Saturday(s)? Expected answer: from x to y. (A question about state.)
    When do you open on Saturday(s)? Expected answer, the opening time. (A question about action).

    I always thought when was appropriate for time, not what.

    GF.. (A boring old Brit!) Good-night everyone!
     
  12. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    No, not in my opinion.

    When was WWII?
    When was King Charles' reign?
    When is baseball season?
    When is the best time to visit Paris?


    These all have time periods as answers.

    "What" in conjunction with "time(s)" is also a temporal question word, just like "when":

    What time is it? since you cannot say When is it? to ask the time.
     
  13. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    To me, the first two questions are still looking for specific moments in history. But I am quite unsure about this topic because the meaning of "when" has now become unclear to me!

    But as you say yourself, "When?" is not the same as "What time?" If you said to me "When are you open on Saturdays?", it would be less clear to me whether you were looking for a specific time or a time period, than if you said "What time?", which for me cannot refer to a time period. This makes sense if you consider your example of "What time is it?" and "When is it?" "What time?" clearly refers to a specific moment, whereas "When?" is just too vague.

    Again, if you said "What time is (an event) on?", this to me could only mean "At what time does it start?", whereas "When is it on?" would be more ambiguous.

    PS It seems I've changed my stance on when referring only to specific times. I now see it as ambiguous
     

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