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Thread: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

  1. #81
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by canadian45 View Post
    That's a ridiculous comment.
    I don't think so. The position of the word "ordinal-number" calls for an adjective, as in "which Republican president" or "which American president". "Ordinal-number" is not an adjective. "Ordinal-numbered" or "ordinally-numbered" would work as an adjective but is still awkward. The adjective excludes those who don't match its description: Republican president as opposed to Democratic president; American president as opposed to a president of another country; ordinal-number president as opposed to... non-ordinal-number president?

    It's clear you are happy with your solution. It's also clear that your opinion is not shared by everyone here.

    I prefer the "in order of succession" as the best alternative presented so far.
    Last edited by JamesM; 12th May 2012 at 7:00 PM.

  2. #82
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Of course "ordinal-number" can be a compound adjective.

    I don't plan to waste any more of my time here.
    Last edited by canadian45; 12th May 2012 at 8:28 PM.

  3. #83
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by son-nie View Post
    Good day everyone!

    Please help me out on this one.

    Ineed to know how to ask the question properly if you want to arrive with an answer that deals with order. samples are:


    1. She is our 13th president.

    2. This is my third time to watch this movie.


    Help guys,
    I badly need it!

    Thanks a lot
    You'd normally start such questions with "how many" followed by something that establishes an order---e.g. before/after, preceded/proceeded, younger/older, taller/shorter, etc.

    -How many presidents came before her?
    This could be answered "12" or "She is/was the 13th president".

    -How many times have you watched this movie before?
    Answers could be "twice" or "This is my third time".

    -How many younger siblings do you have?
    Answers could be "2" or "I'm the third youngest."

    Sometimes, the order is implicit and there is no need to explicitly establish one, for example,

    -In which century was she born?

    It should be obvious that we normally don't ask questions in order to elicit a certain syntax in the reply. We ask questions to elicit a response, which can be expressed in various syntactic forms.
    Last edited by modulus; 12th May 2012 at 8:42 PM.

  4. #84
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    What number child are you?
    What number president is he?

    I analyse these a little differently. I read "What number" as a determiner here.

    It's not uncommon for a noun-phrase to be used in this way. Examples are:
    What size shoes are you wearing?
    What colour tie do you prefer?

    That is not saying that there is such a thing as a "size shoes" or a "colour tie". Rather, "size" and "colour" are attached to "what".

    In contrast, it seems wrong to say:
    What numbered president is he?
    since "numbered" appears as an adjective.

    Nevertheless, I consider "What number president" a less formal and generally less attractive alternative to "Which president in order of succession", and I see "What ordinal-number president" on a par with:
    What metric-size shoes do you wear?
    What number-of-stripes tie do you prefer?
    the woman-next-door's hat

    .. as only marginally acceptable, if at all.

  5. #85
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pertinax View Post

    and I see "What ordinal-number president" .. as only marginally acceptable, if at all.
    Even though I was hoping to have this thread end, I am 'forced' to respond again.
    The collective you are forgetting the requirement of the original post and also forgetting the fact that this thread has little if anything to do with ordinary everyday language.

  6. #86
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by canadian45 View Post
    Even though I was hoping to have this thread end, I am 'forced' to respond again.
    The collective you are forgetting the requirement of the original post and also forgetting the fact that this thread has little if anything to do with ordinary everyday language.
    The original question seemed like an ordinary, even everyday, type of request about how to say something in English.
    I need to know how to ask the question properly if you want to arrive with an answer that deals with order. samples are:
    1. She is our 13th president.
    I still like "What number President was Bill Clinton?" as a way of asking the question to obtain the number (in order) that he represented as president. You may not get the XYth format, as in "ordinal" number format, in the answer but you get the number - I still think that was what the original question was after!
    Your meaning is not what you think it is, it is what your listener thinks it is

  7. #87
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    1) If it is an ordinary request, why is there no easy agreement as to the answer?

    2) No, one certainly cannot say that a cardinal-number answer was what the original poster was looking for when (s)he used two ordinal-number examples!

  8. #88
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by canadian45 View Post
    1) If it is an ordinary request, why is there no easy agreement as to the answer?

    2) No, one certainly cannot say that a cardinal-number answer was what the original poster was looking for when (s)he used two ordinal-number examples!
    1) That strikes me as a non sequitur! As others have noted, English lacks something here "How manyth ....?" or "The what-th ..." is not easily asked in English, but it is nonetheless a simple enough, ordinary request. At the very least, it lacks an easily agreed upon answer
    2) it would be wonderful if the OP from 7 years ago were still around to provide such certainty. The ordinals in the example may simply have been used to illustrate the issue of order and illustrate the kind of question to be formulated. It was the question that was at issue. Having been helped with how to ask the question, the OP might well have been happy with a one word answer, possibly either Thirteen or Thirteenth. We may never know
    Your meaning is not what you think it is, it is what your listener thinks it is

  9. #89
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by JulianStuart View Post
    2) it would be wonderful if the OP from 7 years ago were still around to provide such certainty. The ordinals in the example may simply have been used to illustrate the issue of order and illustrate the kind of question to be formulated. It was the question that was at issue. Having been helped with how to ask the question, the OP might well have been happy with a one word answer, possibly either Thirteen or Thirteenth. We may never know
    Actually no, because the original post specifies an ordinal answer. (something that I should have remembered in my last post)
    42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

  10. #90
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    Re: 42nd President of USA - how to ask a question with an ordinal answer.

    It is not possible to come to universal agreement on this question, and there does not seem to be much point in continuing this discussion

    We have two sorts of answers:

    1) suggestions as to how such questions are usually asked in English.
    2) suggestions as to how they might be asked, according the rules of English grammar.

    Anyone who is interested in the topic is welcome to read this thread and select the responses that seem most useful to them.

    This thread is closed.

    Cagey.
    English Only moderator.

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    how to make the question of: Tom is the 25th chief- minister of the state.

    <<Moderator note. Li Singh's question has been appended to this closed thread. Please read (at least some of) the discussion above to decide which response is most useful to them>>

    Hi
    Since I have joined the forum, I have kept it in my mind that it the only ultimate source of English. I have a sentence: 'Tom is the 25th chief-minister of the state' of which suitable question( the 25th) is beyond me. How to make the question. When I asked of of my colleagues, he answered: What is the ordinal number of chief-minister of Tom of the state?
    Thanks
    Last edited by JulianStuart; 30th May 2014 at 4:33 AM.

  12. #92
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    Re: how to make the question of: Tom is the 25th chief- minister of the state.

    This is a question that seems to be asked of English learners, but it never comes up for native speakers at all. It's just not a question we would ask. I don't know why they put you through this torture.

    I think there are several threads on this already. I would modify your colleague's question: "What ordinal position in Chief-Ministers of State is Tom?" There is no really good way to form this question, in my opinion.
    “The flesh of prose gets its shape and strength from the bones of grammar.” - Constance Hale

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