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Imagine a sentence that contains an ablative of respect: Quintus est pedibus aeger.

Now that same sentence with the ablative of respect removed: Quintus est aeger.

What is the best way to formulate a question to which the missing ablative of respect would be supplied as the answer?

Some possibilities :

Quintus est aeger. Quo? Pedibus.

Quintus est aeger. In quo? Pedibus.

Quintus est aeger. Quomodo? Pedibus.

I'm not confident in any of my answers.

I'm looking for a generalizable formula, if there is one, for asking for a bare ablative. By contrast, when an adverbial is expressed through a prepositional phrase, one can reliably formulate a question by making the object of the preposition an interrogative. Is there a similar formula for adverbials expressed by a bare ablative?

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    Intuitively I would say "Qua parte corporis?" Simply "Quo?" seems a pretty general question, especially since aeger also can have an abl. causae (aeger morbo, vulnere, etc.). Dec 18, 2021 at 22:57
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    @SebastianKoppehel That's a great approach! Can you write that in an answer? I have an upvote waiting with your name on it. A question that can only be interpreted to contain an ablative of respect is the best bet I can imagine.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 18, 2021 at 23:04
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    @SebastianKoppehel I agree that "qua parte corporis?" would work for this exact question with this precise lexical content. But it doesn't generalize. Is there no generalizable formulation to ask for an ablative of respect? To put my question in perspective, if an adverbial is expressed through a prepositional phrase, converting a statement to a question is simple. The interrogative becomes the object of the preposition. But what about the case of a bare ablative? Dec 18, 2021 at 23:26

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A plain ablative quo is way too ambiguous without context. It could be asking for reason, tool, method, route or other things in addition to the thing you are after.

If you supply a general noun, both the nature of the ablative and the expected category become clear and the question is understandable:

  • Qua parte? With respect to what part?
  • Quo modo? In what way?
  • Quibus auxiliis? With what help?

In your example you could go with the first item on my list. In some other cases where you expect an ablative of respect you might need to supply a different noun.

I don't understand why the question should be short even if you only expect a single word as an answer. My response might be: Qua parte corporis sui aeger est? Such a question is easy to formulate mechanically and can naturally be answered by a single word.

A preposition can play a similar clarifying role as a noun, so this is in line with your observation about questions with one: Cum quo? If a preposition or the referent of the pronoun is too ambiguous, then again adding a noun will clarify matters.

I think that a generalizable formula in the sense that you describe it does not exist. The closest hit I can imagine needs an auxiliary noun, and it needs some thought every time.

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