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Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:25:16 PM

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Let's say there are a few objects or something else which can be counted. For example, appointments. A psychologist is supposed to have ten appointments with a client and during one of the appointments the client wants to know the number of the appointment going. How would they ask?

Which is the number of this appointment? (I don't really like it. Any other options?)

Which is this appointment by number?
What number is this appointment?

I am at a loss.
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:36:10 PM

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A psychologist's client wouldn't ask that question, or if he did, it would be ignored. So it's difficult to say how such an intrusive question might be asked. The client might ask if this is his first appointment of the day, or if the psychologist has many more appointments.

Maybe something along the line of...
"Am I your first appointment today?" (Someone will tell you this is incorrectly worded, but it is how a person is likely to ask, in referring to himself as "an appointment".)
"Do you have many more appointments today?"
"Am I your last appointment?"

All very nosy questions...

The psychologist's receptionist might make reference to the "9:00 appointment" as in "Your 9:00 appointment is here."

Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:42:13 PM

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Thank you. I am not interested in speculations on what a psychologist's client would or wouldn't ask, to be honest. I could ask it without any problem, so your statement is debatable. It's not about this specific example it's about the phrase...

Which number appointment/day/book etc. is this?

I am just looking for the right way to say it.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:56:21 PM

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'number' and 'order' are not as related in English as they appear to be in other languages.

the most natural approach would be 'where is he on the list?'


There are some circumstances where you might say 'what number _____ is the book?' but these are pretty rare. I can't think of one. Even if it is part of a sequence, you would ask where it comes in the trilogy, not what number it is. It doesn't feel natural to ask what number appointment he has.

Where is he in the list? He's third / he's at number 26.

But you don't ask what number.


This comes up all the time with Americans, who have decided to number their presidents. A president may be the twenty-third president, but you wouldn't ask their number - you would ask where they came in the list of presidents in chronological order.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:59:02 PM

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Well, I can see this thing

What number president is Kennedy?

https://books.google.com/books?id=M_pbgd4LPoUC&q=%22What+number+president+is+Kennedy?+%22&dq=%22What+number+president+is+Kennedy?+%22&hl=ru&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBg4WI8LbgAhWMfZoKHaQSBQ4Q6AEIJzAA
thar
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 2:08:50 PM

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I am not American so I can't completely discount it, but to me it just sounds completely unnatural.

And for anything else - no, the 'number' is just not the natural approach.

Romany
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 2:55:36 PM
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1. "Can you remind/tell me how many sessions we've had so far?"
2. "Do you know how many more sessions we have left?"

would be the simplest.

You make an appointment in order to have a course of regular therapy sessions as treatments. The number of of actual appointments is immaterial: appointments get cancelled and added to and changed throughout the course of the therapy. What matters is how much more time you'll be having therapy for. How many sessions before the course is finished.

A "Therapy session" is what the time spent with a "shrink" (whether physcologist or psychiatrist) is called. Because the occupation of the person we are seeing is mental health, we know that the "product"/skill they sell is therapy. So we just refer to the time spent together as a "session" and don't bother with an adjective. Everyone knows that refers to time spent with your mental health consultant.

And don't forget: you've framed this within a mental health context so How you would ask would be in a very relaxed way! (The alternative is ...while screaming & crying , so forget that!) Probably something like "Y'know, I've forgotten how many more sessions we have left. Do you have any idea?"

Now that you know the terms to use, you can ask the question any way you like.

Usage note Changed "I" to 'we' for two reasons a)factual: you don't have a session sitting one your own in a room. There are two of you. The plural refers. b)Custom: we limit the use of "I" as much as possible because it's considered polite to do so. To always be saying "I" when it's not needed or when it should be "We" is the mark of a conceited person in our culture. So it's a good idea to keep this in mind when you are practising your English. Than it becomes as normal to you as it is to us.Dancing

(Example: We don't say "I'll see you later". We know it's YOU speaking - we can see your lips moving!You don't have to mention yourself at all. So it's "See you later.")

Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 2:58:59 PM

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I don't think that this question should be seen in association with therapy only. It could be anything. Let's say I want to learn how to drive a car or how to play a musical instrument. The problem would remain. I am still looking for the straightforward question.

What number lesson is this? (I think it's possible) But I see the question is not likable.
RuthP
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 8:23:25 PM

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Ivan Fadeev wrote:
I don't think that this question should be seen in association with therapy only. It could be anything. Let's say I want to learn how to drive a car or how to play a musical instrument. The problem would remain. I am still looking for the straightforward question.

What number lesson is this? (I think it's possible) But I see the question is not likable.

You have hit on something many languages ask, but not English. I believe your Kennedy example has been seen on TFD before. I assume it comes from some English as a foreign language teaching resource.

You can ask any number of these "which" questions in English. Depending upon the context, you might get a numerical answer, but you might get something else. We don't have a specific "how manyth" question: there is no such word as manyth.

You can ask "Where am I on the list?" If the list is actually numbered and your name is easy to find, or if the list is short and the person reading the list can readily see or count your number, you'll get that answer, probably as an ordinal number: "You're fifth", but possibly as a cardinal number: "Five". If the list is long and unnumbered, the other person will likely just be irritated you are asking them to search through a couple of hundred names and then count where you are.

You can ask "What number president was John Kennedy?" or "What number was the Kennedy presidency?" This will be understood, but is not considered a good format. It is a tossup whether you'll get an ordinal or cardinal number in reply (the thirty-fifth, or thirty-five). In a more formal setting, you'd probably ask "How many presidents were there before John Kennedy?" and then add one to the answer; this answer would be cardinal. If you ask "Which president was John Kennedy?", you are far more apt to get an answer describing him: "He was the one assassinated in `63." "He was the one after Eisenhower." "He was the one before Johnson."

For an appointment, you could ask, "Which appointment do I have?" The answer may be "The last one before lunch." "The first of the day." Most likely, it will be the time your appointment is scheduled. That is the important part. Who cares how many people are before you, the important thing is when you'll be seen.

If you are at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or in the deli near my house, you take a paper number from a dispenser by the door when you enter. The people at the service counter will call that number when it's your turn. There is a counter on the wall that shows the latest number being served. When your spouse comes to pick you up and you are still waiting to be served, the question is "What number are you?" The answer is the cardinal number, and then you both must subtract the current number on the counter to find out how many people are ahead of you.

You are a beginning violin student. Every time you play the open E-string it squeaks horribly. Your teacher says, "Eventually, you will learn the upper positions. Then you won't play the open string." If you are working through a set of books with numbered lessons, you could ask "Which lesson is that?" or "What's the lesson number?" The answer may return either an ordinal or a cardinal number. Without some formal, numbered lessons, you are going ask for and get an approximate date, "When do we get to that lesson?" "In the spring" or "Next year".
ozok
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:18:12 AM
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Asking about the number of appointments by a psychologist or lessons to learn how to drive a car or how to play a musical instrument can be important if you are paying for these services.

Asking about your 'progression' (or not) will give you better information.




just sayin'
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:28:54 AM

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Asking about a progression would also be thought of in terms of distance, not number.

How many lessons have we had? How many are left?

But
How far through/along are we?
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:50:27 AM
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Many languages have a phrase that could be translated into English as '(the) how manieth)- if it existed.

It doesn't, which means we have to ask this question in different ways, as others have suggested.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:51:30 AM

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It is a common problem - a set of words totally missing from English which exists in other languages. Ruth remembers well. She was one of the first few who answered.

I think it first came up here and here and again in 2010 (there may be earlier ones) - and 2011, and 2012 . . .

How manieth? How manyth? Whichth? d'oh!

If you're interested in our musings and a bit of "witty banter", have a read of them.

I suppose there is no real answer to your original question - the right way to ask "'Whichth' appointment is this of our ten?" is to ask any question which will give you the answer "the fifth".

The most likely one that I would use is "How many meetings have we had now?" - and hope for the answer "Four - this is the fifth."

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:54:38 AM

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BobShilling wrote:
Many languages have a phrase that could be translated into English as '(the) how manieth)- if it existed.

It doesn't, which means we have to ask this question in different ways, as others have suggested.



I don't understand what made you make up this word "how manieth"? In Russian it sounds as "Which one by number"
Jacky Nautiyal
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:03:41 AM

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Thank you for your article. I have read through some similar topics! However, your article gave me a very special impression, unlike other articles. I hope you continue to have valuable articles like this or more to share with everyone!
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:03:43 AM

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So, I have come to a conclusion that this may work:

What number lesson/appointment is this?

How about these:
1 Which number does this lesson/appointment go by?
2 Which lesson/appointment is this by number?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:18:18 AM

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No, those don't work. The appointments just are not thought of as having a number.

I think the difficulty you are having is in not separating ordinal from cardinal. In English these are not linked in situations like this.

If you have one appointment at nine and one at nine thirty, then that is the second appointment. But it is not appointment number 2. The ordinal number - its position in a list, does not mean you can give it a cardinal number - how many apples you have. It just doesn't transfer to a cardinal number in that way. Certainly not in terms of the question you ask.

In other languages it clearly does - which is why there are so many enquiries about 'how manieth' especially from learners of Indian English. And the numerous replies from western English speakers saying it doesn't exist.

If you have some sort of order, English considers that a position, and asks "where?".

If a certain amount of meetings have already taken place, you can ask 'how many have we had?' because then that is an amount, a pile - like "how many apples are there?" You can then infer the position on the list.
If we have had five sessions, this is the sixth.

eg
where do you come in your family?
I have one older brother and two younger sisters.
But not 'what number are you?' which learners are often keen to try to say, especially in cultures where that is a big deal.
Y111
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:31:04 AM
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Ivan Fadeev wrote:
In Russian it sounds as "Which one by number"

Rather, 'by count'. Which by count president was Kennedy?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:32:54 AM

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I know this probably sounds strange, but no question like that 'sounds right'. Most English people (and anyone who speaks English) could understand what you were asking if you said "Which lesson is this by number?" but (for some mystical and unknown reason) we don't ask "which number" anything is in direct questions.

"Normal English" 'skirts around it' and asks indirectly - "How many lessons have we had now?" or "How many lessons do I have left?".

Until I was asked in 2012, I didn't even realise that it was a missing phrase. It's just something that I would never consider asking, about anything. "Which number son are you in time sequence of birth?", or "If you numbered all the presidents in time-sequence, what would be the ordinal number of Barak Obama?" or "What is the position of your country in the sequence related to Gross National Product?" - they're just not things one would ask.

When asking about something like 'appointments' or 'lessons' or 'hours of tutoring', we seem to think in terms of "How much do I have left of what I paid for?" rather than "What number is the hour that we are doing now?"



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:44:41 AM

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OK. I see. It's weird of course. It means you can say:

This is my third appointment.

But you can't ask about the number of the appointment.
Audiendus
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 8:10:00 AM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
I know this probably sounds strange, but no question like that 'sounds right'. Most English people (and anyone who speaks English) could understand what you were asking if you said "Which lesson is this by number?" but (for some mystical and unknown reason) we don't ask "which number" anything is in direct questions.

I think this may be a little too sweeping! Such a question may arise in a quiz, for example, and I think the most natural way of asking it (even if it sounds rather inelegant) is "What number...?" or "Which number...?"

What/which number president was Kennedy?
What/which number element is oxygen? [if "atomic number" is thought too technical!]
What/which number Olympics were the 2016 Games?

There is a certain logic to using "What/which number" in this way. When we say "This is contestant number 3", we are using "number 3" as a modifier, and we are doing the same in "What/which number president...?"
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 8:24:19 AM

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Yeah . . . though that is a bit of a specialist use - "What would Stephen Fry ask?"

If someone asked me "What number Olympics were the 2016 games?" I'd answer "2016!" Whistle Whistle

******
Even so, the answer to "What number president was Kennedy?" is "Number forty-two" (or whatever the correct figure is) not "Forty-second."

*************
Yes, Ivan.

You can ask "Which appointment is this?" - but you may get an answer like "It's the one you booked with my secretary two weeks ago! Don't you remember?"

You have to 'circumnegotiate the circumference' of the question. - "Is this the third appointment or the fourth?" or "I have seven hours left after this meeting, don't I?"

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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