12

How do you ask a question whose answer is n-th (the order that is)?

For example, how can I convert the sentence "I was the fourth to get a copy" into a question where the answer is "I was the fourth". There isn't a straightforward way of doing so in English – "Among those who got a copy, are you the first, second or what?" – and I suppose it may also be the case in French.

  • I asked the question out of curiosity, considering that in many Asian languages there are actually question words for "what order" or "what n-th". – FrenchNoob Jul 8 '12 at 2:56
18

Quantième is in theory the correct term, but it's high literary at best these days. Although it may not be recognized by dictionaries, combientième will be understood by everyone. e.g. "7 milliards d’humains sur Terre. Et vous, vous êtes le combientième ?"

Le quantième es-tu qui ait eu une copie ? (literary, might give a native speaker pause, at least in France)
Tu étais le combientième à avoir une copie ? (common spoken French, less common in writing)

  • Wow that's interesting. English definitely doesn't have an equivalent for that. – FrenchNoob Jul 8 '12 at 7:50
  • "Le quantième es-tu ?" il y a une faute d'accord. Et trop peu de caractères à modifier pour pouvoir modifier. – Kii Aug 3 '16 at 13:03
  • 1
    @FrenchNoob "Combientième" can be translated to "whatth" in English. It is informal just like its French equivalent, though rarely used, but there are definitely equivalents, more than one too. – MorganFR Aug 3 '16 at 13:14
  • Quantième is in common use in all registers in Belgian French. Combientième is a transparent derivation, so it should be understood here after at worst an instant of hesitation. – Eau qui dort Aug 3 '16 at 16:25

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