How strong coffee does he like? vs How strong does he like coffee?

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Alexey86

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This thread is inspired by Tarheel's reply here:

How powerful hardware do you need on your computer?
How powerful do you need the hardware on your computer to be?
( https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/287831-How-powerful-hardware-do-you-need-on-your-computer )

It caught my attention because we would put hardware right after powerful in Russian. Likewise, we can turn "He likes very strong coffee" into "How strong coffee does he like?" and "He can run very long distances" into "How long distances can he ran?"

Are these variants correct?
How strong does he like coffee?
How long can he ran distances?

Are questions phrased as How + adj + object + verb + subject + verb always incorrect?
 

GoesStation

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The sentences you asked about are wrong. I prefer your version of Tarheel's sentence, but his having written it is evidence that at least one native speaker found it natural. :)
 

emsr2d2

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Are these variants correct?

1. How strong does he like his coffee?
2. How long a distance can he [STRIKE]ran[/STRIKE] run? [STRIKE]distances?[/STRIKE]

Are questions phrased as How + adj + object + verb + subject + verb always incorrect?

When you give us more than one sentence to consider, please number them so that responding is simpler.

Sentence 1 just needed one more word to make it natural.
Sentence 2 is grammatically correct with my changes above, but it's far more natural to say "How far can he run?"
 

Alexey86

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1) How powerful hardware do you need?
2) How long a distance can he run?
3) How strong coffee does he like?

Is the first sentence correct without on your computer to be?
Is the third sentence incorrect or unnatural?
 
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jutfrank

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How powerful coffee is wrong because you can't have a quantifying phrase (how + adjective) premodifying an uncountable noun. The exception is how much/many.

how powerful hardware :cross:
how strong coffee :cross:
how important information :cross:


However, you can when the NP is singular and countable:

how powerful a computer
how strong a coffee
how important a piece of information

I don't know how good an explanation that is.
 
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emsr2d2

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1) How powerful hardware do you need? :cross:
2) How long a distance can he run?
Of course this is right. It's exactly what I wrote in my last post!
3) How strong coffee does he like? :cross:

Is the first sentence correct without on your computer to be?
Is the third sentence incorrect or unnatural?

The first is incorrect. Use the version Tarheel gave - it doesn't just include extra words; the word order is different too.
 

Alexey86

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1) How powerful hardware do you need? :cross:
2) How long a distance can he run?
Of course this is right. It's exactly what I wrote in my last post!
3) How strong coffee does he like? :cross:

All three have the same structure: How + adj + object + verb + subject + verb. Why is only the second correct? What's the rule?

P.S. I see now. jutfrank explained it in #5.
 
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Alexey86

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How powerful coffee is wrong because you can't have a quantifying phrase (how + adjective) premodifying an uncountable noun. The exception is how much/many.

However, you can when the NP is singular and uncountable:

how powerful a computer
how strong a coffee
how important a piece of information

Did you mean countable? And what about plural countable nouns? For example, He likes very fast cars -> How fast cars does he like?
 
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jutfrank

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All three have the same structure: How + adj + object + verb + subject + verb. Why is only the second correct? What's the rule?

I can't give you a comprehensive grammatical explanation, but I can say this:

How strong a man is he?
How important a question is it?
How powerful a computer do you need?

You can see that the degree phrase comes before the indefinite article, showing that it is a predeterminer in the NP. I don't know why this doesn't apply to uncountable nouns too because it kind of should. It may be because with uncountable nouns (without an article), we wouldn't be able to parse the degree phrase as a predeterminer. If that's right, it means that the deeper structure isn't the same. I don't know. I'd be interested to see a grammarian's analysis of this.

Did you mean countable?

Yes, sorry.
 

Alexey86

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How strong a man is he?
How important a question is it?
How powerful a computer do you need?

Will these be correct if I make the nouns plural?

How strong men are they?
How important questions are these?
How powerful computers do you need?


I'd be interested to see a grammarian's analysis of this.

Me too.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Will these be correct if I make the nouns plural?

How strong men are they?
How important questions are these?
How powerful computers do you need?
No.
 

Alexey86

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How strong are these men?
How important are these questions?
How powerful do you need computers to be?

Are these variants correct? Is to be necessary in the last one?

One more question. Consider this pair please:

1) This man is a very good runner. -> How good a runner is this man? or How good is this man as a runner?
2) These men are very good runners. -> How good are these men as runners?

Which variants are correct?
 
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Charlie Bernstein

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How strong are these men?
How important are these questions?
How powerful do you need computers to be?

Are these variants correct? Is to be necessary in the last one?

They are all good, and yes, I would use "to be" in the last one.


One more question. Consider this pair please:

1) This man is a very good runner. -> How good a runner is this man? or How good is this man as a runner?

They both work. The first is more natural. Or: How good a runner is he?


2) These men are very good runners. -> How good are these men as runners?

It's okay. More natural: Are these men good runners?

Which variants are correct?

They're all grammatical and make sense.
Now you know!
 

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How strong are these men?
How important are these questions?
How powerful do you need computers to be?

I would add 'these' to the third sentence as well. It's not wrong as written, but it sounds like you're asking about all computers in general.
 

Alexey86

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I would add 'these' to the third sentence as well. It's not wrong as written, but it sounds like you're asking about all computers in general.

I meant a context like this:

- I need very powerful computers for my job.
- Look at these models. X can run at 5 TFLOPS and Y can reach up to 6 TFLOPS.
- That's not enough for me.
- How powerful do you need computers to be?
 

GoesStation

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I meant a context like this:

- I need very powerful computers for my job.
- Look at these models. X can run at 5 TFLOPS and Y can reach up to 6 TFLOPS.
- That's not enough for me.
- How powerful do you need the/these computers to be?
See above. Without the determiner, you're asking about computers in general. That doesn't work in your context. It's hard to think of a context where it would work.
 

Alexey86

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1)
- I need a powerful computer.
- How powerful the computer do you need?
(I know How powerful? would be better.)

2) - I need something (= computer) powerful.
- How powerful should it/this 'something' be?

Are these correct?
 
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Charlie Bernstein

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Yes — or: How much power do you need?
 

GoesStation

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1)
- I need a powerful computer.
- How powerful [STRIKE]the[/STRIKE] a computer do you need?
(I know How powerful? would be better.) You're right.

2) - I need something (= computer) powerful.
- How powerful should it/this 'something' be?

Are these correct?
With my correction, yes. You can't say "how powerful the computer" except as an exclamation about computers in general: How powerful the computer has turned out to be!
 

Alexey86

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With my correction, yes. You can't say "how powerful the computer" except as an exclamation about computers in general: How powerful the computer has turned out to be!

I'm confused because earlier you recommended using the/these computers. Aren't singular indefinite nouns and bare plurals equal in terms of (in)definiteness? I mean the nouns would be equally indefinite in I need powerful computers for my job and I need a powerful computer for my job. So it's not clear to me why the articles in the questions should be different:

1)
- I need very powerful computers for my job.

- Look at these models. X can run at 5 TFLOPS and Y can reach up to 6 TFLOPS.
- That's not enough for me.
- How powerful do you need the computers to be?
2)
- I need a very powerful computer for my job.
- Look at these models. X can run at 5 TFLOPS and Y can reach up to 6 TFLOPS.
- That's not enough for me.
- How powerful a computer do you need?
 
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