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I would like some guidance on how to ask questions with "how many" in them. For example, does one say

From how many minutes is the train late?

or simply

How many minutes is the train late?

or something else?

Similarly, is it

From how many kilos does she slim ?

or something else?

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@Philoto below has given you the suggestion "How slim is she" to replace "From how many kilos does she slim?". Slim can be a verb, but usually more like, "She's trying to slim down this summer," meaning to lose weight - so I suspect you're really trying to ask, "How many kilos did she weigh before?" [before she lost the weight]. And remember - be careful when talking about how much someone weighs; "she looks great!" is usually better if you're not sure than blurting out "how many kilos has she lost?" –  aedia λ Jun 21 '11 at 19:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

How many minutes will the train be late?

would be ok. From is incorrect in this question.

From how many kilos does she slim

I'm not sure slim can be measured like this. Your best bet will be How slim is she?

Generally, you'll be just putting how in front of the question and changing word order accordingly to make your sentence a question.

She has many friends.

How many friends does she have?

If there's a preposition somewhere in the statement and it is connected with many or the noun, you'll want to move it toward the end.

I've heard this rumor from many people

How many people have you heard this rumor from?

Notice how from is separated from many people and put in the end of question. Strictly speaking, From how many people have you heard this rumor? is also ok grammatically, but in my opinion it is a little more awkward.

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Thank you for the additional 'theoretical' discussion! –  Marco Jun 19 '11 at 8:22

I would not normally use "how many" with units of measurement like minutes or kilos. Instead, I would rephrase as how+(adjective):

How late is the train?
How slim is she?
(Contrast using "how many" for discrete items: How many apples did we have? How many people ate them?)

The exception would be if I wanted to emphasize that this unit of measurement should be used:

A: How late is the train?
B: It's only a little late.
A: I know that, but how many minutes late is it?

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