Translation:Excuse me, how many of you?
Actually, I imagine “how many places do you need?” is the meaning of the sentence above. (Places at a restaurant might even mean place settings). But there are a limited number of contexts when it is explicitly used in English. (It’s often implied but not everyone who speaks English is conscious of the history of it).
I think this is one of those sentences we just need to learn when the native mandarin speaker would say it and then figure out what the native English speaker would say in the same context. And yes, that means a long time while people come up with random English idiom and claim it to be the best answer.
Ilias merentis above gave the best answer. “位 is a polite measure word for people”. You’ll have to figure out how to format it for duolingo hints I suppose.
How many persons is correct and should be accepted. Please, Duo Lingo staff, please fix this. These Chinese expressions may be translated many ways that are equivalent, and the "correct" answers frequently are "interpretations" rather than literal. For example "persons" or "people" are not accepted in this example, and they are perfectly correct.
"Excuse me" is a terrible translation for "请问" because they don't really have the same function.
You say "excuse me" to get someone's attention before asking a question. But if you're seating people at a restaurant you already have their attention. You're saying 请问 to be polite. "How many people, please?" or "How many in your party, please?" would be much better.
Yeah, "how many of you" is a terrible translation too. "How many are you" is OK, though it sounds a little pretentious to me. "How many of you are there" would be good.
It’s the English, not you, not the Mandarin.
In English we need so many more details just to make the sentence complete.
Here, “how many of you” helps us to understand (in English) that you’re talking about people.
In Mandarin, all that’s needed is 位.
Personally, it would be more natural to say “how many of you are there?” but that’s a lot of words to translate two characters in mandarin. That’s the challenge with translation between such different languages.
It is wrong, but not because of grammar. It is because of social reason. If you use 位, that means you are referring to some people you have respect for them. In such case you won't call them just 人. You would use any terms that are more decent. e.g. 几位客人？How many guests (are there)?