What is the difference between:(sentence meaning)

How many rooms does this house have?


How many rooms are in this house?

*let's say you were looking for a house to buy, and made a query to a house seller.

If I were to ask that, I would use sentence2, simple because that is what I usually hear, especially from movies. However, sentence1 is something I understand but flimsy.

  • 4
    There is no functional difference between the two of these. You could also ask "What's the number of rooms in this house?" and no doubt others. There is no single "proper" way to ask this question.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


The two are functionally equivalent. One asks it in terms of the house possessing the rooms, and the other asks it in terms of the house containing the rooms, but both mean the same thing in every practical sense, and both are idiomatic.

  • Is "How many rooms are there in the house" also possible? If yes, in which terms does it ask?
    – Victor B.
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 22:24
  • That's the same, means the same thing in practice, and asks it in the sense of the house containing the rooms. You can consider it 100% equivalent to "how many rooms are in the house"; I've seen some people describe that as having an elided there in the sentence anyway. I don't know about that, but I do not there's absolutely no difference whatsoever between the two, not just in practice but in all but the most detailed theoretical approach.
    – SamBC
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 22:25

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