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Under the circumstances where someone i know took part in a competition, an exam or a race and got the results which i don't know yet,

I wonder where he or she was placed. So I might ask him or her a question which would get an answer like,

"I won the first" or "I was in the first", etc.

Korean, my mother tongue, is quite clear with this.

Interrogative adjective which seems like what or which in english is followed by the noun of the place or order or whatever, which sounds like a unit that English might not have, and the rest...

Searching this on many sites with esl, I've got lots of answer parts, but not any question of a fixed sentence.

Why is that so?

Isn't there any clear-cut form of questions in English?

I mean.. Does it depend on situations?

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  • There have been a number of questions on ELU, which discuss the framing of questions which call for an ordinal answer - like this one. Here is a link to one of them: english.stackexchange.com/questions/11481/…
    – WS2
    Dec 14, 2022 at 7:54

2 Answers 2

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There's no single literal translation of what you're asking, but there are various ways to say it.

"How did you do?" is idiomatic and versatile and would probably be my first choice for any variant of this scenario. The respondent can answer with whatever information is relevant and is not locked into a fixed format.

"Did you win (anything)?" would be good for a competition, provided there is some expectation of the answer being yes (if that's highly unlikely and not important, better to go with something more neutral).

Sometimes you might ask "What score did you get?" or for an equivalent quantitative result.

"How did you place?" is probably the most literal wording of the question you're asking, and I can't quite put my finger on why it wouldn't always sound natural, it's not too bad. As long as the results are in fact structured around "placement" and not, say, a numeric score like above, it should be fine.

For the record, "nth place" (first place, fifth place, etc.) is the idiomatic way to talk about competition rankings. So, "I won first place."

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  • Thanks for your reply. Having posted here, it hit me that it may be the cultural difference that has caused me to get confused all the time. The placement, the place I am in, where I live is usually considered big, vital or crucial, but it may not be so where English is used. Maybe is it not an etiquette to DIRECTLY ask of somebody the placement in the competition? Aug 4, 2021 at 7:23
  • @JaejinYoun It really depends on the competition. Try to listen to how others are talking about it. I agree there seem to be some cultural differences at play; for instance, in American schools, most exams are not overtly competitive. Students may compare scores with one another, but the entire class's rankings are not usually made public, so asking in those terms would be odd. Aug 4, 2021 at 20:41
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If it is a race, competititon, etc:

where did you finish?

Where did you come?

In which place did you finish when you ran the marathon?

What place did you finish in class?

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