My book (written by a Japanese) gives this as an example of an exclamatory sentence:

How many children there are who really need love!

Does this sound natural to you native speakers? At least, to me it doesn't. As far as I remember, we cannot use "how" for exclamations of plurals...
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No, it's fine and natural, Taka. 'How many times I've cursed that man!' 'How few people enjoy good literature these days!' etc.
Really!? My dictionaries say these are wrong:

"How lovely flowers these are!" (although "How lovely a flower this is!" is OK)
"How silly boys you are!" (although "How silly a boy you are!" is OK)

Do these actually work??
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No, but these work:

'How lovely these flowers are!'
'How silly you boys are!'

(I have no idea what point of structure we're talking about here, Taka-- I'm just giving you the native sentences. What does your reference say about this structure exactly?)
It just says "when you compose an exclamatory sentence of a plural noun, do not use "how" but "what"."

"What lovely flowers these are!" OK
"What a lovely flower this is!" OK
"How lovely a flower this is!" OK
"How lovely flowers these are" Not OK.
You can use how but you need to change the word order.

'How lovely these flowers are!' is perfectly OK.
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Hi Taka,

Yes I've found the reference-- it's over in 'adjectives', and has to do with the rather anomalous order of adjectives with intensifiers 'how, too' etc. where the order of indefinite article and attibutive adjective is reversed. So, just as we cannot have 'X how lovely flowers these are', we also cannot have 'X how a lovely flower this is'.-- we must use 'what' in both cases. However, with the inversion rule, we can also have 'how lovely a flower this is', 'I bought too big a house', etc.

As for a logical reason, all I can do is quote Greenbaum and Quirk: 'In exclamative clauses, the exclamative element is formed with what as predeterminer in a noun phrase and how as intensifier of an adjective, adverb or clause; the exclamative element is positioned initially regardless of its normal position in a declarative clause.' This doesn't really explain anything, though.

Hope this helps.
Yes, I know the rule, and that's why I'm confused. I mean, "How many children there are who really need love!" is OK, but "How lovely flowers these are!" is not, right? But structually, they are the same, aren't they?

How+(many [adjective] [noun])
How+(lovely [adjective][noun])
'Many' is a quantifier, and doesn't work the same way as a descriptive adjective. 'How many/few flowers you have' is fine but 'how lovely flowers you have' is not. I'll let you know if I find out 'why', and you let me know if you find it, eh?
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