Today I went to the the Japanese consulate general in my city and applied for a visitor visa. The application process was like, we would get a number and wait for our numbers to be called and then we can come to a designated window to proceed with our application.

I wanted to chat with the person sitting next to me, like asking what the number he or she got.

Can I simply say "what number are you?" in this situation?

Also, if you understand and have experienced the application process I just described. Can you please help me rephrase so that I can better describe the situation?



"what number are you?"

sounds quite impolite, I think. It is like you are not talking to a person, but to an objet, identified by a number. That may have been used in concentration camps.

It is better to ask:

What number do you have?


What's your number?

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  • Since it is a really imformal setting, I don't really see the issue with "What number are you?" - I wouldn't personally find it rude if someone asked me in this way, but I agree that your other two examples are better – Bee Jul 8 '19 at 13:32
  • Talking to a total stranger should actually be quite formal. Maybe not extremely formal, but definitely not informal. My opinion. – virolino Jul 8 '19 at 13:35
  • Well our opinions differ then. I believe that striking up a conversation with someone in the environment described, esspecially if they are a similar age to me, would be informal. It probably also depends on the country – Bee Jul 8 '19 at 13:41

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