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"How many months have 28 days?" Grammar Question Options
Creios
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 12:46:20 PM
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Joined: 5/11/2015
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Hi Everyone!

I know it's kinda lame to ask but how do you understand the question, "How many months have 28 days?".

At first, I understand this as a question wanting for exact 28 days since it does not say "How many months have at least 28 days?" nor it says ""How many months have 28th day?".

What bothers me is that I saw grammar book (oh yes, a grammar book), that shows this question and says that the answer is "all months".

Am I correct that the questions entails exactness?

Thanks in advance!
thar
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 12:51:15 PM

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It does sound like a trick question.

All months have twenty-eight days, it is just that most have more than that.

If the person who asks you this is a child in a playground, then it is a trick question.

If you answer, "February", they gleefully tell you you are wrong.

If it is asked by your extremely forgetful accountant when he is busy putting together a report, then he is probably asking with the assumption 'a month with twenty-eight days' is one which does not have thirty or thirty-one (but does sometimes have twenty-nine....) That is the common sense part.
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 12:53:33 PM

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Welcome to the Forum, Creios. 'How many months have 28 days?' is a joke, or a trick question. The unsuspecting will usually say something like - 'Only one - February', and the questioner might laugh and say 'Wrong! They all have 28 days!' (I fell out of my cradle laughing at that one).

I remember, therefore I am.
Romany
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 1:02:15 PM
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Yeah - agree with Jacob. That one's so old it's got white whiskers.

It's just a joke which all schoolkids learn at some time or other. Nothing more serious than that.

(Others of the same vintage: "When is a door not a door? When it is ajar. (A jar).
"What's black and white and red all over? A newspaper!" That only works when spoken, as 'red' and 'read' are spelt differently.)

Just playing around with words.
Creios
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 1:05:07 PM
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I know it is somehow a trick question but gramatically speaking, is the Q&A correct?

I am just confused on the fact that a "grammar book" seems to be teaching thing that may confuse the reader. I can understand if it is a just-for-fun-type of books.
thar
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 1:17:51 PM

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The trick is not in the grammar - it is in the maths.

You could make yourself clear by using more words:

How many months have 'only twenty-eight days' or 'exactly twenty-eight days'. But you would never say that in normal speech because there would be no point. It is not confusing because you use your common sense.

If someone asks, "How many months have 30 days?" you count them........ and say, "Four."
That is giving a helpful answer.
You could include the ones with both 30 and 31 days, but that would just be annoying to the person who asked you a reasonable question.

It is like the question, "Where are my car keys?"

You can understand that grammatically and answer, "On your key ring."
But it is much more useful to use your common sense to judge what they mean, and say, "On the kitchen table."

edit
After food!

The joke is possible because one way of saying how many days there are in a month is to 'have' days - to possess them.
I have three sisters. I have two sisters who have children. So, I have both 'two sisters' and 'three sisters' - both statements are true. To have three sisters I must have two sisters, because the numbers go 1,2,3.
A month that 'has' 31 days, must also 'have' 28 days in it, if you want use that fact for a joke. It is just the way that particular structure works.
Romany
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 1:44:15 PM
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I don't think it's unusual to put such a Q and A in a text-book - after all it was our teachers who introduced them to us.

The reason behind this is because such questions check whether one (the student) is understanding what they read/say or not. It makes them stop and think about clarity of speech. It makes students wary of saying things that could be ambiguous or just, plain silly.

Learning a language isn't just about grammar and vocabulary: it encompasses so much more. Though these are presented as jokes they force us to examine what we say, what we mean, and the best way to combine the two so that we are understood.
rogermue
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 2:19:41 PM

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I'm wondering whether you learnt anything useful from this kind of grammar book.
coag
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 2:29:41 PM

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Mathematically speaking, the answer to both questions
1. How many months have 28 days?
2. How many months have at least 28 days?
is 12 (all months).
thar
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 2:55:51 PM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
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Unless you are talking Old Icelandic months. They all have 30 days.
Then you have four days extra between two months (Sumarauki - summer addition), and every few years you add an extra week to make it 11 days. Very simple! Whistle

I guess the highest order of knowing a language is getting the puns and the jokes. Maybe the author of this book thinks a joke is a good way of remembering the structure. After all, you are going to remember it now! But not useful if it just confuses people.

And of course it doesn't work with another question.
Which month has 28 days? - that can only have the answer 'February'.
Which months have 28 days? - that gives away the joke.

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