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

Discussion in 'English Only' started by son-nie, Oct 20, 2005.

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  1. son-nie New Member

    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.:confused: 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:)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2012
  2. QUIJOTE Senior Member

    You right after I read it it does sound awkward, What number president was she? would be my choice, as for the second I would say I've seen this movie a number of times, but I left the phrases intact for his reference, something I regret now since it did get all this started and at the end the thread was splitted in two, and Panj cut my posts I am sure by mistake, so he says (just kidding Panj :D ), long story short this is the last time I post message while talking on the phone and answering another email. sorry guys:(
  3. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    I know this has been tussled over but here's my two cents:
    To my ears, "What number of presidency" doesn't sound like anything a native English would speaker would say regardless of where they are from.
    A question that would elicit the answer would be something along the lines of: "Is she the twelfth or the fourteenth president?"

    The second response doesn't sound right to me either:
    I'd say this is the third time I've watched this movie.

    I hope this clarifies things.
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This thread was closed temporarily for repair but is now open for business.
    Please try to keep on topic to some extent at least.
    Posts that addressed the structure of the Son-nie's answers, but did not address the question, have been relocated to a thread about watching movies and watching TV programmes.

    ... In mod mood.
  5. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    How about using "which," as in "Which President is she?"
  6. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    But that wouldn't necessarily elicit the answer the thirteenth president: the one with pink teeth, a policy to annexe Cuba could all be possible answers.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I suppose we can assume that she is, in fact, the 13th President.
    In that case, I might have asked:
    "Is she the 12th, 13th or 14th President of your country?"
  8. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    You could just cheat and say 'Whose 13th president is she?'
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    "What is her order of presidency?"

    :warning: Not sure at all - just throwing it out there.
  10. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Just had some more ideas:

    "Where did/does her presidential term fall in the order of presidency?"
    "Which president was she, in terms of chronological order?"
  11. SweetMommaSue Senior Member

    USA/American English
    Welcome son-nie!

    I'm with GenJen on this one. I would ask:
    1. Which president is she?
    2. This is which time that you've watched this movie?

    Sweet Momma Sue

    If I understand you correctly, you are dealing with ordinal vs. cardinal numbers. So, you need answers that deal with the order of things: first, second, third, fourth, etc.

    I believe that the questions I've posted would cause a person to answer with an ordinal number vice a cardinal or counting one. If I ask "How many times have you seen or watched this movie?" Many folks would answer, "This is my third time." However, many others would also correctly answer, "3," or "three times". So, that is why I structured my questions the way I did. "Which" is a question word that asks for a position in a sequence, in this case. :)

    Does this help to clarify things a little?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2012
  12. duder Senior Member

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. What number President is/was _____?
    => I tested this on a few people and got the response I was looking for. I use and hear this construction quite frequently.

    Which President is (past tense: was) ______ ?
    => Again, I tested this and got the desired answer. This might not work for more obscure names, but when it is clear that both speakers are familiar with the name, then one assumes that the number is what is being asked. To remove all ambiguity, one could add a guess at the end: Tenth? (Is that cheating?)

    2. How many times does it make now that you're seeing this movie?

    It gets a little simpler to write if we change the tense, but the meaning changes slightly too:

    How many times have you watched this movie now?
  13. son-nie New Member

    thanks guys, you really helped a lot!

    thanks so much to all of you.

    may God bless you always.:)
  14. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    I know it sounds odd to ask such a question like "How manyth..." and I cannot think of any other question forms to inquire ordinals. I suppose there's no standard form for this, right? If there's please tell about that, if there's not, then how to ask such a question expecting an answer like "4th president, 42nd president etc."

    What do you think about these:
    What number in the sequence of Turkish Presidents does Mr. Sezer occupy?
    What place does Mr. Sezer take in the sequence of Turkish Presidents?

    P.S: I'd be glad if you could correct my terrible mistakes.
  15. Cayuga Senior Member

    Believe it or not, Chazz, we -- or at least I -- say "What number president was he?"

    I think you've hit on something the English language is lacking.
  16. mirx Banned

    What president number was Mr. sezer?

    and I agree with cayuga, I would most likely say what he posted.
  17. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    I think that they are such elegant options that it is a shame that most native speakers wouldn't have come up with them!
    I'm not quite sure what I would say. Perhaps I would say something slightly different and ask:

    How many Presidents were there before Mr. Sezer?

    Cayuga's option sounds very natural.

    This is not the first time that someone has asked this question, look.
  18. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Got it, thank you guys. :)
  19. nestor76 Senior Member

    turkish turkey
    Hi, I came across a strange problem and I just can not find a proper solution.

    "Bill Clinton is the 42nd President of the United States of America."
    "George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States of America."

    Here, my problem is the bold part, the ordinal number. How can I ask an ordinal number in a question? To be the 42nd or the 43rd etc.. is one of the characteristics of the person. How can I ask that characteristic of that person?

  20. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    The only solution I can come up with is
    Where does Bill Clinton stand in the order of US presidents?

    I hope someone will find a better option.
  21. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Which president was Bill Clinton?

  22. nestor76 Senior Member

    turkish turkey
    Thanks LV4-26.
    Thomas1, that is actually not specific enough, because the answer could be anything. Such as, he was the tallest one or the shortest one etc.
    The answer must be specifically "the 42nd." So the question must ask the ordinal number.
  23. nestor76 Senior Member

    turkish turkey
    I also came up with something, but I'm not totally sure about it.

    Is it possible to say
    "In historical order which president is Bill Clinton?"
  24. Orange Blossom Senior Member

    U.S.A. English
    We have a tendency to ask such questions this way:

    Who was the 42nd president of the United States?

    Orange Blossom
  25. nestor76 Senior Member

    turkish turkey
    Thanks, but what if I don't know if he's the 42nd or 43rd? Your suggestion is more like the answer.

    The real problem is that in turkish we have a specific word "kacinci". If you say "kacinci?", you get the answer "42nd etc..."

    I'm wondering how to properly ask a question so as to get the answer "42nd, 28th etc..."

    Question: "............?"
    Answer: "He's the 42nd."
  26. Orange Blossom Senior Member

    U.S.A. English
    It's rather awkward in English. The question I provided would be one a history teacher would give when quizzing the students about their knowledge of the order of the presidents. The answer in this case is the president's name. The knowledge quizzed is the same: Does the student know the order of the presidents?

    In other situations: If there is someone I know seated in a theater, but I don't know where he is seated I could say:

    "Where is name seated?" And the answer might be "The second row from the front."

    As far as I know, there is no good way to ask a question, especially a stand-alone question, in English which would result in answers that are only ordinal numbers.

    Orange Blossom
  27. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    "Which number president was Bill Clinton?"
  28. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    Perhaps you could preface the question with a statement to show you are thinking about numbers.

    For example:
    "George Washington was the first US president. Which one was Clinton?"

    Like Orange Blossom, I can't think of a good way to ask the question and ensure the right answer without establishing a little background information.

    Edit: except maybe "Which number president was Bill Clinton?":D as mgarizona suggests
  29. Orange Blossom Senior Member

    U.S.A. English
    I like this.

    Maybe it's just me, but this question sounds awkward and clunky to me. I prefer the earlier solution.

    Orange Blossom
  30. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Better, in my opinion, is numerical.
  31. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    What presidential number is Bill Clintion? US Presidents - William Clinton

    MGArizona's "What number president is Bill Clinton?" is clear to me as well.
  32. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    Sorry to offend your ear, but a quick glance at Google---searching "which number president"--- would seem to back me up.

    (Including the bizarre: "I've decided to ask my boss today which number president Benjamin Franklin was.")
  33. maxiogee Banned

    Bill is no longer the 42nd President. He lost the present tense when his second term ended. George will lose his present tense when his term ends.

    My answer to your question depends on exactly what you wish to know. If you know the number which relates to one president you might say - "Gerald Ford was the 38th US President - what number was Bill Clinton?"
    If you don't know any of the numbers, you might need to say "How many American presidents were there before Bill Clinton?"
  34. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I think "which/what number president was he?" is what I'd most likely expect to hear (as river and mgarizona). It's clear to my U.S. English ears what the questioner is looking for. My wife suggests, "Which U.S. president was he in sequence?" I think that also works.

    (Just as a side note, there are two ways of counting this "sequential" number. We have some presidents who have served two non-contiguous terms, so some people will count one person as both the 22nd and 24th president, for example, while others will consider it simply a matter of the 22nd president receiving a subsequent non-contiguous term. All this is to say that there may be two "correct" answers to the question being sought here.)
  35. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For some bizarre reason this topic has appeared twice before.
    Why do people want to know how to ask a question that has an ordinal as an answer? Is this little challenge an exercise in a grammar textbook or an exam test paper?

    I've added today's thread to the end of the previous two, so it would be worth reading the earlier posts to see if there is an answer that suits you. As I recall, there was not perfect answer.
  36. Orange Blossom Senior Member

    U.S.A. English
    I like these solutions proposed in one of the earlier threads:

    I have altered the last sentence for a U.S. president:

    What place does Mr. Clinton take in the sequence of U.S. presidents?

    It solicits the desired answer and sounds good too. :)

    Orange Blossom
  37. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I think it's more a question of how to express that in English as in my mother language, and as I presume in many others, this question may be clearly posed and you'll get the desired answer. :)

  38. maxiogee Banned

    As the Bush's could well be setting up a dynasty ;) how about "regnal number"? :p
  39. mrbilal87

    mrbilal87 Senior Member

    English (NAmE)
    Depending on grade level (grade 6 students for example), I think "What number president was Mr. Clinton" should do fine. "What place does Mr. Clinton take in the sequence of U.S. presidents", as Orange_Blossom suggested, sounds fine as well for older students.
  40. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks Tom. I hadn't thought of that. How very curious.
  41. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    Mightn't "Next to last" answer that question accurately, though not in the 'desired' fashion?
  42. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    And yet I only found this thread because it was linked from the same question in Italian-English this morning.

    I still like "Which president was XYZ, in numerical order?" which no one has seen fit to like or dislike enough to mention. :)
  43. Mack&Mack Senior Member

    Korea & Korean

    I am wondering what would be a question for the following sentences.

    I am the third child in my family.

    He is the twelfth president in my country.

    Would you say, What number of child are you? or What number of president is he?

    I remember someone saying how many presidents were there before him? If it sounds okay what about how many older siblings do you have?

    Thank you in advance.
  44. Full Tilt Boogie Senior Member

    Manchester, UK
    British English
    It depends: is the third child the first, middle, last child to be born?

    If so, refer to it as such. 'Third child' is accurate in terms of enumerating where that child falls in order of birth, but leaves the person to whom you address the statement with very little idea as to where the child might be in terms of seniority within the family.

    "I am the second eldest/third eldest' is an answer you'd expect to receive.

    'How many siblings do you have?' is accurate; 'how many brothers & sisters do you have?' is less formal.

    Oh, and it's "He's the twelfth president of my country...", not 'in'.
  45. mlee0332 Member

    South Carolina
    English - USA
    You might ask, "Which president is he?" or "Which child are you?" but I'm not sure either.

    "What number president is he?" doesn't really make sense to me.

    Other than that, I don't know how you would ask what number a person is in a list...
  46. Diablo919

    Diablo919 Senior Member

    Dayton, Ohio
    US / English
    "What number president is he?" sounds OK to me (regionally maybe?) but there are definitely better alternatives.
  47. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Today's thread on this topic has been added to the accumulation of several previous threads. Please read from early in the thread. It is not only about presidents :)
  48. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    As pointed out earlier, there appears to be no interrogative word in English that requires an answer in ordinal form ( i.e. no "what-th" ) although it may exist in other languages. It is therefore not a situation for a native English speaker to even conceive of such a restrictive question with any frequency, such that all compliant options sound contrived.
  49. mlee0332 Member

    South Carolina
    English - USA
    Well, I guess it could work. Now that I think about it a little.
  50. halthecomputer Senior Member

    Canadian English
    I don't like any of the above responses, to me all of them either don't sound right or are ambiguous. I would suggest asking, "How many Presidents came before her?" Add one and you have your answer.
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