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When learning German in college, I was taught "Was Uhr ist das?" or possibly "Wieviel Uhr ist es" (not sure which). However most online translators such as Google show "Wie spät ist es?".

What is the way to ask what the current time is?

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May it have been "Wieviel Uhr ist es?" that you were taught? Note the difference in Google translate results when you type "what time is it", "What time is it", or "what time is it?" ;) – Takkat Feb 21 '12 at 21:25
It may have well been wieviel, it was a few years ago. – Russell Steen Feb 21 '12 at 21:36
Must. Resist. Writing. Current. Time. As. Answer. – splattne Feb 22 '12 at 13:36
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Was Uhr ist das?

is wrong.

According to the Duden in some areas is used:

Was ist die Uhr?

But that isn't standard German.

You can use:

Wie spät ist es?

Wie viel Uhr ist es?

Wie viel Uhr haben wir? (could be, that this one is colloquial, I'm not sure)

If the people you ask are strangers and you want to be more polite, I suggest:

Können Sie mir bitte sagen wie spät es ist?

Könnten Sie mir sagen wie viel Uhr es ist, bitte?

Könnten Sie mir bitte sagen wie viel Uhr wir haben?

(You can use the combinations of "können/könnten" and "bitte" in all three sentences. I wanted to save space.)

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I've never heard "Was ist die Uhr?" in my life. – splattne Feb 22 '12 at 13:38
I heard "Was sagt die Uhr?" – Takkat Feb 22 '12 at 14:20
@Takkat: tick tack – John Smithers Feb 22 '12 at 14:27
I’ve been asked „Wie spät haben wir’s?“ – Brian Nixon Feb 22 '12 at 16:16
@Takkat: "Was sagt die Uhr?" is colloquial. – Black Feb 26 '12 at 12:50

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