Which/what floor do you live on?

Henryk

Senior Member
Germany, German
Hi all of you,

I'd like to know whether both are possible. I chose "what" in a test and I can't explain why he did so. After all, there's not really a selection the asked person can choose from.

Thanks in advance. :)
 
  • Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Yes, both are correct and can be used. When you have a choice of numbers you can either say 'what' or 'which.' One is not better than the other.
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    I know your building has more than one floor. Which floor do you live on?
    I don't know anything about the building. What floor do you live on?
     

    Henryk

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    Thanks a lot both of you. :)

    Yes, both are correct and can be used. When you have a choice of numbers you can either say 'what' or 'which.' One is not better than the other.
    I know your building has more than one floor. Which floor do you live on?
    I don't know anything about the building. What floor do you live on?
    That's exactly what I'm up to! :) There was no statement about the house so I took "what" and not "which".

    The complete task was as follows:

    ___ floor do you live on? - On the second floor.

    So where should I know from that there's a second floor at all? By using "which", I suggest a knowledge about the house but I didn't have it.
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    You don't know from an exercise like that! Either can be used I'm afraid.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I'm going to throw in another opinion.

    When you have a limited number of options to choose from, I think you should use which.

    So, for this specific example I'd say:

    "Which floor do you live on?" (as in which one? which? You wouldn't ask what one?)
    "I live on the second floor."

    But are you saying you only found out about the second floor after you had the opportunity to fill in the blank?


    AngelEyes
     

    Henryk

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    Thanks for your answer. :)

    So, for this specific example I'd say:

    "Which floor do you live on?" (as in which one? which? You wouldn't ask what one?)
    "I live on the second floor."
    But you'd only say that if you know the number of floors the house has (as you wrote), wouldn't you?

    But are you saying you only found out about the second floor after you had the opportunity to fill in the blank?
    Is it of importance? I knew that the answer is "on the second floor".

    But I don't think it is of importance since it's just an example. There was no statement on the house before and an answer cannot influence the question to it, can it? :)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Even if I didn't know which floor you lived on, I'd still ask you, "Which floor do you live on?"

    Me: "What kind of place do you live in?"

    You: "I live in an apartment building."

    Me: "Really? Which floor do you live on?"

    You: "The second floor."

    Me: "What kind of neighbors do you have?"

    You: "The ones on one side are quiet. The ones who live above me party all night."

    Me: "Which ones do you prefer?"

    You: "Which ones would you choose?"

    When I have options to choose from, I use which.


    AngelEyes
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would have expected to answer this as I would answer most which/what questions. Which if there are known limits to the value set, what otherwise.

    But for some reason that doesn't apply in relation to buildings. Which floor is that on? Which floor do you work on? These are the normal, routine, everyday questions.
    Are these questions OK with what?
    What floor do you work on?
    Perhaps.
    But the which version seems most natural. I wonder why?

    I guess that it is because it is implicit that I am asking "which of the floors in the building", not "what floor in a theoretical range from 1 to a very large indeterminate number".
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Hmm, that stands in contrast with what Siberia said. Is it a BE/AE thing?

    I don't blame you for being confused. I found a couple of sites that say they're interchangeable.

    I found a couple that state it depends on if you are speaking about something in general (What kind of place do you live in?) as opposed to selecting an answer from a variety of options. (Which floor in that building is yours?)

    Also, as Panj suggested, when you ask a question that is a choosing between several options, which just seems to apply better.

    But he's Irish and I'm American, so I don't know if you can base our answers on where we live, either.

    Hopefully, someone will step in and add some new perspective. :)


    AngelEyes
     

    Henryk

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    Thanks again for your answers. They are sufficient for me. :)

    But the which version seems most natural.
    But "what" doesn't sound weird enough to be looked at oddly, does it?

    I wonder why?
    Your perspective may be due to the fact that the questioner is unconciously picturing a typical office building while asking. Search me! :)
     

    Mark1993

    New Member
    Dutch
    Old, but interesting discussion.

    When I'm in the same elevator or buidling, I would naturally say: "Which floor do you live on?" as the number of floors are limited.

    However the number of floors are never mentioned during the conversation. The question also doesn't specify the building itself, and I'm myself not aware of how many floors that apartment block actually has. Therefor: "What floor do you live on?" works perfectly fine for me as well.

    If I meet somebody on the street and he/she tells me that he/she lives somewhere in Manhattan, I would probably ask "What floor do you live on?". Simply because I don't know how many floors the apartment has. In this situation "Which floor do you live on?" sounds a bit awkward, because I don't even know the building (Just imagine the answer would be "floor 3.5").
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Old, but interesting discussion.

    When I'm in the same elevator or buidling, I would naturally say: "Which floor do you live on?" as the number of floors are limited.

    However the number of floors are never mentioned during the conversation. The question also doesn't specify the building itself, and I'm myself not aware of how many floors that apartment block actually has. Therefor: "What floor do you live on?" works perfectly fine for me as well.

    If I meet somebody on the street and he/she tells me that he/she lives somewhere in Manhattan, I would probably ask "What floor do you live on?". Simply because I don't know how many floors the apartment has. In this situation "Which floor do you live on?" sounds a bit awkward, because I don't even know the building (Just imagine the answer would be "floor 3.5").
    Very perceptive :)
    I agree with you. Thank you for this insight.
     
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