question on the order of something

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question on the order of something

Unread post by robby » Sun May 25, 2008 5:04 pm

Hi everyone
Suppose you want to know if Lincoln was the 4th or the 5th president. How would you ask questions regarding an order of something? or another example: you see your friend and she has 4 children. you want to know if one of them is the 3rd or the 4th one without saying "Is she your 3rd child?" or "which one is she as far as the order goes?" It seems like a stupid question but I just don't know how to ask it.

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Re: question on the order of something

Unread post by Syl » Tue May 27, 2008 7:09 pm

I'm not sure I understood what you want to know...

If what you mean is how to formulate the instructions in a test or in an exercise, you can say something like:

"Arrange the ______ according to the _____________".

For example,
"Arrange the names of the following cities and their populations from largest to smallest"


"Arrange the names of the following presidents according to the dates of their presidencies"

and so on.


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Re: question on the order of something

Unread post by eric_p_m » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:27 am

Dear Robby,

A really great example that I use in class is while at a restaurant, a waiter asks you if you would like coffee or tea versus tea or coffee.

This type of syntax shows linguistic preference: the first one indicates that the coffee is better than the tea with the second option showing the tea to be better than the coffee. If you were in a coffee shop or tea house, you would expect to hear the one the store was about first. Otherwise, the waiter would be telling you that their product was not so good and was recommending something else. Furthermore, intonation has a lot to do here, as does non-verbal communication.

In addition, the culture where you come from also provides different strategies for requesting such information. Should you ask a question directly or use tertiary communication? Should you play ignorant and allow the other person to show their intelligence: Abraham Lincoln was the fifth president of the United States, right?

Culturally, asking a friend which order a particular child was born in would indicate that you were not much of a friend, in most cultures. Well, at least not a long-term friend.

If you have further questions, feel free to either e-mail me or come by my on-line school and open a secure chat window with me.


Eric Paul Monroe

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