In this other question, the answers say that 電話{でんわ}番号{ばんごう}は何番ですか is a common way of asking for someones number. I was thrown off by the repitition of 番, but the answers say it's commonly used. So it got me thinking, is this kind of repeatition common and are there other phrases or situations like this where, a word is repeated?

1 Answer 1


A. 電話{でんわ}番号{ばんごう}は何番{なんばん}ですか。(What is your phone number?)

B. 今年{ことし}は何年{なんねん}ですか。(What year is this?)

C. 好{す}きな色{いろ}は何色{なにいろ}ですか。(What is your favorite color?)

D. この車{くるま}はあなたの車{くるま}ですか。(Is this your car?)

All of these four sentences include a kind of duplication, but nobody feels that they are redundant.
Perhaps you think that A, B, C and D can be said differently as follows.

A'. #電話番号は何{なん}ですか。

B'. #今年は何{なん}ですか。

C'. 好きな色は何{なん}ですか。

D'. この車はあなたの (or あなたのもの)ですか。

A' and B' are not correct. Neither of them makes sense.
They are questions for the number, the order, or the numbering of something. Then you need to use the counter suffix with 何{なん}, as 何番, 何年, 何人, 何本, etc.

C' and D' are perfectly correct. ''色'' in ''何色'' is not a counter suffix. So you can say ''何{なん}の色{いろ}'' instead of ''何色{なにいろ}''.
By the way, if 何色 is read as ''なんしょく'', it is a question for ''how many colors''. Please look at this question and my answer if you'd like more details about this.

A''. #電話は何番ですか。

B''. !今は何年ですか。

C''. !好きなのは何色ですか。

D''. これはあなたの車ですか。

A'' is still strange, even more than A'.
は plays a role to indicate what the speaker is talking about. You're talking about the phone of your friend, not about the phone number, so A, the first one, is the most natural.

B'' and C'' are actually used sometimes, but they are less common than B and C are.

How about D''? The word ''これ'' is used when both the speaker and the listener recognize the thing and it is near the speaker or near both of them. (This page would be helpful.) When it's obvious what you're referring to, ''これ'' is used instead of ''この車''.


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