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Is there a way to use 何 with the general counter ~つ to ask "how many..." in the same vein as in sentences like "何歳ですか。" or "本は何冊買いましたか。"?

If not, how do you ask something like "How many ideas do you have", where (I think) one would normally use the generic counter? Do you have to resort to 何個?

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Is there a way to use 何 with the general counter ~つ to ask "how many..."

No, we don't say 何つ. We say いくつ (幾つ).

If not, how do you ask something like "How many ideas do you have", where (I think) one would normally use the generic counter?

You could use いくつ, as in 「アイデアはいくつありますか。」「いくつアイデアが浮かびましたか。」 etc...

  • So you can't say "いくつアイデア"? – Kaskade May 15 at 20:22
  • It's not a noun, it's an adverb. It doesn't need の. You could say いくつかの or いくつもの though of course they mean different things. – Fireheart251 May 15 at 21:07
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    It's not a noun, it's an adverb. <-- ん? 明鏡国語辞典 categorizes いくつ as a 名詞... noting 副詞的にも使う. @Fire – Chocolate May 16 at 2:39
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    @Hans 「いくつアイデア」「みっつりんご」「何本ペン」「3本ペン」「何匹犬」「2匹犬」 etc are all grammatically correct. It's correct to say 「いくつアイデアがありますか」「3つアイデアが出ました」「何匹犬を飼っていますか」「ここに3本鉛筆があります」 etc. It's more common/natural, at least in daily conversation, to say them as 「XXはいくつありますか」「XXが3つあります/3つXXがあります」「犬は何匹飼っていますか/何匹犬を飼っていますか」「ここにペンが3本あります」etc., using いくつ / n+counter adverbially. – Chocolate May 16 at 2:56

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