I saw somewhere today that [電話]{でんわ}[番号]{ばんごう}は何番ですか is used to ask for someone's phone number. It seemed strange to me since I usually hear it as [電話]{でんわ}[番号]{ばんごう}何ですか, and also because the literal translation "What are the numbers, in your phone number?" sounds like it has some redundancy in it.

So my question is, which is more common?

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    So what are you really asking? The questions in your final line? Or are you trying to actually find more common ways to ask this? Unclear to me.
    – istrasci
    Jan 31 '16 at 5:54
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    @istrasci the one's in the last line. Sorry for the lack of clarity in my question
    – Olumide
    Jan 31 '16 at 5:56
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    Is this question about redundancy, not about the popular expression when you ask a number, isn't it?
    – Toshihiko
    Jan 31 '16 at 10:37
  • @Toshihiko it about both, but I'll edit it to be just about the popular expression
    – Olumide
    Jan 31 '16 at 18:42
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    @Toshihiko here's the new question japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/30856/is-repetition-of-words-in-questi
    – Olumide
    Jan 31 '16 at 19:01

あなたの電話番号は何番ですか? is a common way of asking someone’s telephone number. We don’t have distinction of singular and plural form as you know. So its direct translation would be “What (number) is your telephone number? We don’t think it’s redundant.

I think 貴方の電話, 何番ですか?is passable. But “貴方の電話番号は何ですか?” sounds weird and odd to me. You can also say “(あなたの)電話番号を教えて頂けますか?” in polite manner.

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    I have never said or heard another native Japanese speaker say 「あなたの電話番号は何番ですか?」 and you say that is "common". Jan 31 '16 at 9:22
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    Yes. I heard it million times. Jan 31 '16 at 9:28
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    @YoichiOishi to be honest, I can't say I ever heard "あなたの電話番号は何番ですか?" verbatim in a real world situation. Maybe in a classroom, as an example sentence, but frankly 99% of the time, it's 電話番号を教えていただけませんか (or variants). Even "電話番号いくつ?" and "電話番号頂戴" are fairly common. Jan 31 '16 at 11:03
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    @Amani Kilumanga. I've often heard あなたの電話番号(は)何番(ですか? as I wrote. You may have heard "電話番号いくつ?” if you say so, but I've never heard it. I think (あなたの) 電話番号を教えていただけませんか? is a standard expression for asking the phone number. If I ask someone "電話番号頂戴," he or she'll be shocked, and roll around, cause I'm taken as a 83 year-old puff. Jan 31 '16 at 11:26
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    @Felectur. Thank you for your concerns on my auditory sense. But, don’t worry, it’s working perfectly. I wrote (あなたの)電話番号を教えていただけませんか? is a standard form of asking question with あなたの in parenthesis. You may or may not use あなたの. You add あなたの、彼の、会社の when you need to specify. I’ve never or seldom at best heard a restaurant / hotel receptionist and shop clerk asks you in blunt way as電話番号を教えていただけませんか without adding あなた様の、お客様の. あなたの電話番号を教えていただけませんか? is nothing special as you make a fuss, unless you’re living in a small village you don’t need to discern people. Jan 31 '16 at 22:01

I think both of your sentences are occasionally used but the most common way of saying it is "電話番号を教えてください".


The 番 in 番号 is a part of the noun. The 番 in [何番]{なん・ばん} is a counter suffix ([助数詞]{じょ・すう・し}). Although these two 番s are same in kanji and pronunciation, their roles and nuances in a sentence are different.

It's common for native Japanese speakers to use counter suffixes, even if it sounds repetitive in a sentence.

For example, when someone goes to a bank which has a ticket dispenser for waiting line management, he may hear an announcement like this:


This sentence contains four 番s, but it sounds natural and decent for most native Japanese speakers. Using counter suffixes in this way is a custom in Japanese language. A word with a counter suffix helps imagine the meaning very well and prevents ambiguity.

Counter suffixes clarify the meaning of a sentence. If another counter suffix is used, the meaning of a sentence changes totally. For example,

電話番号は何番ですか? = What is your phone number?

電話番号は[何件]{なん・けん}ですか? = How many phone numbers (are there)?

電話番号は[何個]{なん・こ}ですか? = How many phone numbers (are there)?

電話番号は[何桁]{なん・けた}ですか? = How many digits does the phone number have?

So, using a proper counter suffix is very important in Japanese language.

If you would google “電話番号は何” or “電話番号何”, you would see that many people usually add the counter suffix 番 to the expression when they ask a phone number.

何 without 番 is usually used in a situation where someone asks the purpose or the meaning of a phone number, or where someone asks multiple things in a sentence.

Example 1:

Person A「[0120]{ぜろ・いち・にー・ぜろ}で始まる電話番号はですか?」

Person B「フリーダイヤルです。」

Example 2:

Person A「[3桁]{さん・けた}電話番号で、[171]{いち・なな・いち}ってですか?」

Person B「災害用伝言ダイヤルです。」

Example 3:

Person A「住所と電話番号はですか?」

Person B「名簿で確認します。」

There are various expressions to ask a phone number in Japanese, actually. I selected some common expressions (including those which other users suggest in their answers and comments, in case you wonder) and placed them in politeness-degree order: 〔1〕 is not polite (doesn't mean rude. It can be nice and friendly if said nicely in an appropriate situation.), 〔9〕 is very polite or well-professionally polite, and 〔2〕〜〔8〕 are inbetween.

〔1〕「電話番号[何]{なに}?」(very casual)


〔3〕「電話番号、[聞]{き}いてもいい?」(nicer casual)

〔4〕「電話番号は[何]{なん}ですか?」(translation-from-other-language or simple keigo)

〔5〕「電話番号を教えてください。」(guide-like or direction-like keigo)

〔6〕「電話番号は何番ですか?」(friendly keigo)

〔7〕「電話番号、聞いてもいいですか?」(friendly keigo)

〔8〕「電話番号を教えていただけますか?」(formal keigo)

〔9〕「お電話番号をお伺いできますでしょうか?」(very formal keigo)

So, which the most common expression is depends on what politeness-degree someone is familiar with in one's daily life. Anyway, in many cases, using a proper counter suffix is nicer and more decent than not-using it.


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