For example, the teacher has a gradebook and asks you about your position in the gradebook . Is this correct to say this and maybe there should be numeric?:

Teacher: What number do you go in the alphabet in? You: I'm going second in number.

or another example:

Him: What number are you in line to the doctor in? You: I'm second in number.

2 Answers 2


The responses should be

I'm second (in the gradebook).

I'm second in line.

Because your name is in the gradebook. Your name is not in a number. So "I'm second in number" is not correct. In practice the phrase "in the gradebook" would be omitted, because it is clear from the context.

So the questions must be:

What position are you in the gradebook?

or perhaps

What number are you in the gradebook?

Similarly for the doctor:

What position are you (in line)?

In actual use, both these situations seem unlikely: A teacher would not need to ask where the student is, since the teacher should know this information already. Similarly you would not normally need to ask another person for their position to see a doctor, especially if that person is a stranger.

Also "gradebook" should perhaps be "markbook" or "register". And I don't know what the reference to "alphabet" means in your example, so I'm ignoring it.

  • When I was in primary / secondary school, teachers often asked students what number they were in the grade book. Where I'm from (not the UK), at a doctor's office people sometimes start conversations with strangers in the waiting room – especially when they've been waiting for a long time. Among other questions, it's not uncommon to hear people asking about the position in line. Re the alphabet thing: pupils' names are often (where I'm from) arranged alphabetically in the grade book, so teachers ask that question, "Whatth" are you, alphabetically?, referring to a pupil's position in it.
    – user3395
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 18:53
  • @James K Is "What number are you in line?" fine too?
    – Boyep
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 20:00
  • 1
    I'd understand that, especially if there were assigned numbers.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 20:05

No. The first dialog could go:

What position are you in, alphabetically?

I'm second, alphabetically.

And the second:

What position are you in line?

I'm second in line.

And note that in the second question, the in is part of the prepositional phrase "in line." So technically, the question is not grammatical because it means, "In what position are you in line?" But the first in is elided. In effect, the fragment, "What position are you..." means, "Which spot do you occupy..."

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