In my native language, and most Indian languages that I know, there is a way to ask for "whichth", but I don't seem to have found anything similar in English. Let me explain below.

What question would you need to ask to obtain the following answers?

  • In terms of geographical area, Australia is the sixth largest country.
  • John is his father's third son.
  • Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system.

The only way I can think of is use of roundabout legalese-like sentence structure, which makes it sound laughable. For example:

  • If countries are arranged in order of their geographical area, then at what number is Australia?
  • Among the sons of John's father, if you arrange them in the order of birth, then at what number does John appear?
  • At what position is Mars in the solar system, in terms of distance from the Sun?

If there is such a word as "whichth", one could ask, for example:

  • Australia is "whichth" largest country in terms of geographical area?
  • We have that word in my first language too. In a site for native English speakers who want to learn Thai, there is this dialog: My parents have five children. Which are you? ;^) – Damkerng T. Jan 4 '14 at 18:09
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    Whicheth! This sounds like an awesome and useful word. I vote we unilaterally adopt it in English. If selfie twerk, phablet, and apols (short for apologies (had to look it up)) can make it into Oxford's, then useful words like whicheth should stand proudly in their company. – Scotty Jan 4 '14 at 19:07

There's no word in English that means exactly "which-th". I would normally say something like the following:

Where/How does Australia rank against other countries in terms of geographical area?

This sentence uses the phrase "Where does X rank..." or "How does X rank", which works when someone or something is being ranked against other people or things.

Which planet is Mars, the third or the fourth?

The second sentence uses "which" but adds "the third or the fourth" to clarify exactly what is meant by "which".

Is John the youngest son, the oldest, or somewhere in the middle?

This last sentence just dodges the problem entirely.

Note: I would only write the first sentence. The other two are conversational.

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  • I thought of using "where" but not "how"! I was going to start the question like :"Where does Australia come [against] the other countries? Because the answer would be something like: It comes e.g. second". It's good to know, and this question is a good one. +1 for the each, the Q and A. – learner Jan 4 '14 at 18:30

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