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    #1

    how manyth

    A guy was asking how to translate a Chinese sentence which basically said, in Chinese:

    The how many'th president are you?

    I said, we'll have to rephrase the question, then translate that to:

    How many presidents have there been before you?

    He searched the wonderful web and came up with:

    Which number president are you?

    I have my head full of Chinese, so I get confused. Would anyone really say this? Maybe it's American?

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    #2

    Re: how manyth

    There isn't a word in English to easily ask this question (what number in a succession).

    Yes, "which number president was Grover Cleveland?" is how it would be asked.

    (Trick question, he was 22 and 24.)

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    #3

    Re: how manyth

    Those interested in this topic will enjoy this thread.

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: how manyth

    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    a Chinese sentence which basically said
    Should a sentence be 'spoken' instead of 'said'?

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: how manyth

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Should a sentence be 'spoken' instead of 'said'?
    No. This sentence was not spoken. It conveyed a message.

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    #6

    Re: how manyth

    Personally, I would never say the awful 'Which number president are you?' Sounds like Baby-English and or Chinglish or both!
    I find it hard to believe anyone would ask thus. I suppose context is everything.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 12-Aug-2015 at 13:22.

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    #7

    Re: how manyth

    Wow. This may have been the longest amount of time I've experienced in my 10+ years on English learning forums that I have gone without encountering this question. I feel like it used to come up twice a month or more.

    We do NOT have a way to ask a question that guarantees you will get "13th" versus "13."

    Despite so many convoluted and unnatural suggestions that I could fill a short book with them ("What ordinal number was the presidency of Abraham Lincoln?" is one example. I mean... really??) simply asking "what number..." will almost always result in "16th" versus "16." ("He was our 16th president," not "He was number 16."

    And as I've maintained since this question came up, what INFORMATION is lost if you get "two" instead of "second"? Is essential data lost? "Oh, I would have understood what you mean if you'd said "twelfth" but you said "12" and now I am SO confused!" Not likely.

    Just say "What number..." and don't worry about it.

    (Yes, it's odd that English doesn't have this, and if I heard "how manyeth?" I'd know exactly what you meant, but I haven't seen it catch on yet.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: how manyth

    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    Personally, I would never say the awful 'Which number president are you?' Sounds like Baby-English and or Chinglish or both!
    Not to me, it doesn't.
    "What number president was FDR" is exactly how I'd ask it. What is your "non-awful" version to get that information?

    I find it hard to believe anyone would ask thus. I suppose context is everything.
    Is it so amazing to think that someone might want to know where in a line of succession someone or something is?
    "How many seats away from the aisle are our seats?" We're the third and fourth ones in.
    "What number are you in the lottery for room selection?" I pick seventh.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #9

    Re: how manyth

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Not to me, it doesn't..
    Nor to this speaker of British English.

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    #10

    Re: how manyth

    I probably would have said "What number of president are you?"

    Not a teacher.

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