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现在是什么时间?
Now is what time?

This seems to be an alternative way of asking for the time in Chinese. (The usual way is 现在几点了?) However, something feels "off" about this question: I can only find it used in two situations, (a) when English is translated into Chinese, and (b) for questions such as:

伦敦现在是什么时间?
What time is it in London? (link)

Question: How appropriate is 现在是什么时间? for asking the time?

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Both 现在是什么时间 and 现在几点了 mean the same.

现在几点了 is used in casual situations.

现在是什么时间 sounds that the speaker might think there would be something happening shortly or at certain time, so he/she wants to know the time. For example, 现在是什么时间? 我们该上课了吧?

The effect is subtle. They can be used interchangeably. But 什么时间 does sound the time seems more important.

P.S. 现在是什么时间? can also mean What time is it for? E.g. A: 现在是什么时间? B: 现在是午饭时间/早操时间/自习时间/etc.

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    Maybe it should be noted that the tone can convey the same meaning in 现在几点了? If it is delivered in a rushed or anxious tone, for example. (Think 现在几点了? 我们不是该上课了吗?) – YiFan Nov 17 at 4:53
  • @YiFan I agree. – dan Nov 17 at 7:44
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The phrase is perfectly correct and grammatical, and is indeed often used, although perhaps less often than 现在几点了---the latter has the advantage of being easier to say and rolls off the tongue easily. But if you say 现在是什么时间 (or in certain contexts replacing 时间 with 时候), it will probably not strike anyone as being awkward.

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It's very appropriate to ask time using 现在是什么时间, even when you talk to someone, however, this sentence has different meaning when you don't end it with a question mark. It can be an accuse for someone who is not aware of the time. For example:现在是什么时间!你怎么还在这里? which means you're too late to do something.

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