When it comes to scheduling a meeting, it’s important to be polite and formal with your colleagues and employees. It’s also important to note the differences between using “when would be the best time” and “what would be the best time” as questions.
Should I Use “When Would Be The Best Time” Or “What Would Be The Best Time”?
When asking about the best time for a meeting, you should use “what would be the best time” to ask someone which time they’d want the meeting to be. “When would be the best time” works if you’re looking for one specific time to choose.
The two questions are fairly similar, but they’re just subtle enough in their difference to make a noticeable difference. A lot of native speakers might not be too familiar with the difference, so you can generally use either, but we encourage you to learn what’s best.
First of all, “when would be the best time” is the less common choice. Very few people will use this question when scheduling a meeting.
“When” is an interrogative pronoun that we use to talk about times and such. However, when we include the rest of the question, all of a sudden, the “when” becomes an obsolete word choice, and most people avoid using it for this reason.
“What” is more general as an interrogative pronoun, and we usually use it when we want to make a selection from an indistinct list. That means we don’t have a definitive answer to what we’re looking for, and we’re happy to figure it out with someone while asking the question.
The Difference Between “When Would Be The Best Time” And “What Would Be The Best Time?”
To clear things up a little, let’s look at the following examples:
- When would be the best time for us to meet?
- I’m free at 5.
- What would be the best time for the meeting?
- Any time after 3.
The first example uses “when.” Generally, we’re looking for a specific timeframe to schedule something when asking this. You can think of it like someone asking you, “choose a time that works best. Now, when is that time?”
The second example is much more open-ended. Many people prefer this because it means they don’t have to give a direct answer straight away and allow themselves longer to think about it.
We can give a general response like “any time after” or “between this and that.” This then shoots the final decision back to the original asker, which helps us to narrow down a time that works for everyone.
Examples Of How To Use “When Would Be The Best Time” Or “What Would Be The Best Time”
Let’s go over some simple examples that will help us to elaborate more about when “when” is used and when “what” is used. As we’ve said, “what would be the best time” is by far the most popular choice of the two, so we’ll start with that.
- What would be the best time for the meeting?
- Any time after two.
- What would be the best time to schedule it?
- I’m free between six and eight.
- What would be the best time for you?
- I can get out at six, so any time after that.
- What time works best for you?
- Between one and three, I’d say.
- What would be the best time to talk about this?
- I’m free this evening.
As you can see, the responses we give to the question of “what would be the best time” are always very general. There are a few options we can give, but usually, we allow the asker to pick the final decision based on the group of times that we consider ourselves to be available for.
Now let’s see how the question of “when would be the best time” might differ through some examples.
- When would be the best time to do this?
- How does six sound?
- When would be the best time to schedule our date?
- I’m ready to go at eight.
- When would be the best time for our meeting?
- How about three-thirty?
- When would be the best time for you?
- I can do two.
- When would be the best time to go?
- What about eight?
Sometimes, when we respond to “when” as a question, we reply with a question. Again, it helps us not to make a final decision. Either way, we still have to respond with a more specific time frame to answer a chance to decide whether or not that time works for them.
“What would be the best time” is always used in a more general way, while “when would be the best time” is used more specifically to pinpoint an exact time.
4 Better Ways To Schedule A Meeting
There are a few better ways that you might want to use when it comes to scheduling a meeting. While there’s nothing wrong with “what would be the best time,” it’s often overused and can help you expand on your vocabulary if you try one of these instead.
- How is (time) for you?
- Are you available at (time)?
- (Time) works for me. Does it work for you?
- Let me know if (time) works for you.
The preferred version in a business format is “how is (time) for you.” It keeps the question formal and allows us to ask whether a time works straight away without worrying about asking someone else for that time first.
In all of the following alternative sayings, when we use “(time),” we mean that you can replace it with the time that you want to schedule a meeting.
How Is (Time) For You?
The first example is perhaps the best to use in more formal situations. It’s good to ask questions that directly set up a specific time for somebody, rather than allowing them to come up with their own time.
“How is (time) for you” works really well, especially if you’re the boss asking an employee whether a time works for them. It allows you to come up with a time that already works for you and just to check whether they can make it.
Of course, if they’re not available, then they can always say that the time doesn’t work and come up with an alternative one. For the most part, this works best when you’re superior to them and just making sure they’re available.
- For the meeting on Monday, how is three o’clock for you?
- That works for me.
Are You Available At (Time)
The next question we want to go through is a good choice for more formal situations, too. This question is a little less direct, as we’re asking, “are you available.” This allows the person replying to say either “yes” or “no” before anything else.
“Are you available at (time)” works as a way to ask someone whether they’re available to have a meeting at the time you provide. This works well if you’re a boss or an employee, as you’re not suggesting a direct time but allowing them to decide if they’re available.
Allowing someone the chance to decline or accept the time is what makes this question so great, even if we’re the employee asking whether our boss is available for a meeting. It’s short and to the point and is still polite enough to be considered formal.
- Are you available at six for a meeting?
- No, I’m afraid I’m not.
(Time) Works For Me. Does It Work For You?
We might also want to use a saying where we’ve already decided on a time that works well for us. Firstly, we make a statement like “(time) works for me,” this encourages the person to accept the time we’re talking about. We then ask the question about whether it works for them for clarification.
“(Time) works for me. Does it work for you” is a good statement and question combination to use in all situations. It can work well to schedule a business meeting, but it can just as easily be used to schedule something more casual like a date or meet-up with friends.
We can use it to say what time we’d like the meeting to be, and then just check with someone to see whether it works for them too.
- Two works for me. Does it work for you?
- Yes, two works!
Let Me Know If (Time) Works For You
This is the most informal choice you can make on the list we’ve given here. It’s good for business meetings that don’t involve a boss or where you’re close with your colleagues. It’s much better to use with friends in a casual manner, though.
“Let me know if (time) works for you” is a casual statement you can make to encourage someone to pick a time that works best for them. It’s not the best choice in formal business meetings.
The only problem with this statement being used is that it doesn’t always encourage a direct answer that provides a suitable time. You can see that in the following example, where the person answering says they’ll check before giving a time.
- Let me know if one o’clock works for you!
- I will do. I’ll check my diary.
Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert at explaining difficult topics in a simple language.
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