Asking about the ordinal position.

TNdaSZ

Senior Member
Chinese - China
Hi,

I find in English it seems there is no way to ask a question whose answer is like this:

"I was the 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th...../ Xth to come to the classroom this morning."

Is there a natural way of asking with respect to the order of the object?
"What number.....?"
"Which number.....?"
Neither seems to work.

Thanks!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "I was the 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th...../ Xth person to come to the classroom this morning."

    This construction would only be used with low numbers (probably less than seven): human nature is such that when there is a small crowd of people already in the classroom, thereafter nobody is able to state their position as far as entering is concerned.

    The question would have to be:
    Q: "How many people were in the class when you arrived?"
    A: "There were seven; I was the eighth to arrive."
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Oblique ways of asking...

    How many students came to class before you this morning?
    How many were already in class when you arrived this morning.

    (cross-posted)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    There is usually no formalised ranking in terms of entry to class, but in the context of exams, we used to be ranked in terms of overall exam marks, and this was called 'class position', and so we could ask, 'What's your class position?'

    See I got the first place/position in class.
     

    TNdaSZ

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks guys so much! So it is true that there's no direct way of asking about ordinal numbers.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So it is true that there's no direct way of asking about ordinal numbers.
    That is a little too broad:

    A: "I hear that 20,000 people took part in the marathon - where did you come?
    B: "Nine thousand four hundred and sixty first."
     
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