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Let's say I want to ask

How many people are in the hotel? Women do not count.

I would like to get, as an answer, the number of people in the hotel excluding women. Is the above question the right way to ask it?

The sentence Women do not count is the part I find confusing. In this particular context, it may be obvious what it means, but in general, wouldn't it mean that women are not capable of counting, instead of women not being a part of the people we consider in our counting?

In my opinion, it sounds much intuitive to say Women have not being counted or Women are not (being) counted. But, at the other hand, it still doesn't make much sense.

So, what is the correct way to ask it? Btw, how would the same sentence look like in present continious, or past simple?

Thank you in advance for your time.


This is my first question on english stack exchange community. English, as you can probably tell, is not my native language, so feel free to correct any grammar mistakes I've made in this post. Thanks.

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Dec 28 '17 at 10:56

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • Hello, se. ELU is intended for proficient Anglophones; ELL was set up for questions from learners. / 'How many people are in the hotel? Women do not count.' is grammatical, but, without precise context, sounds dismissive of ladies. Your question is in any case unclear: do you want the count to include girls under 16 say? 'How many males are in the hotel?' is clear but formal; 'How many men and boys, including male babies, are in the hotel?' is not so starchy. / If only adults are in the hotel, 'How many people (excluding women) are in the hotel?' is an improvement on the original, but ... – Edwin Ashworth Dec 28 '17 at 10:31
  • 'How many men are there in the hotel?' seems more sensible. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 28 '17 at 10:32
  • @EdwinAshworth. Thank you for the response. You may post it as an answer if you want. – stackexchange Dec 28 '17 at 10:54
  • Notice that the question has been migrated. I consider it wrong to endorse off-topic questions with 'answer's over on ELU, so don't think being invited to do so is appropriate. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 28 '17 at 11:29
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth. Ok, I apologize. – user67274 Dec 28 '17 at 11:32
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How many people are in the hotel? Women do not count.

Yes this would be understood by most people but sounds somewhat awkward.

You should generally aim for brevity wherever possible when asking a factual question, and construct your questions in a way that can be as easily understood as possible.

In the above example, the person responding to the question has to process two questions essentially, "how many people are in the hotel" ; then secondly, "how many of those people are not women".

So it would be more succinct, and clearer if you simply said:

"How many men are in the hotel?"

You might want to further clarify your question, for example if you mean how many men are staying in the hotel as guests, you might say:

"How many men are staying in the hotel?"

or for a less idiomatic phrase:

"How many male guests are in the hotel?"

because:

"How many men are in the hotel?"

Would apply to staff working in the hotel also.

EDIT:

To answer your second question,

How would the same sentence look like in present continuous, or past simple?

Simply consult a table of conjugations, e.g here are the conjugations of the word stay:

http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-english-verb-stay.html

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