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Articles, Part 5: Expressing Quantities


Now you know what to say when you want some beer, an indefinite quantity of wine, and whatever you will need to treat it: (Did you forget?)

bière vin aspirines

                     Listen                                Listen                                     Listen

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And you know what to say when you want a specific number of things, such as one cent, one car, two wheels,  three years old: (Did you forget?)

sou deux roues trois ans

Listen                                   Listen                                          Listen

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You also know how to say you want or have none of these things: (Did you forget?)

pas de sou   pas de bière1pas de vin

Listen                                                   Listen                                                             Listen

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But what when you want a given quantity of any of these things, without having to actually count them?

Well first, you learn the vocabulary for expressing various quantities (click on words to listen):

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pas /pah/ : not

peu /puh/ : little, few

un peu /ehn puh/: a little

assez /ah say/: enough

beaucoup /boe coo/: a lot

trop /t-rho/: too much, too many

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Here is the structure for using them:

Structure

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pas de bière1Pas de bière /pahd bee air/ Listen

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peu2  Peu de voitures /puhd vwatürh/Listen

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un peu Un peu de sel /ehn puhd sell/Listen

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assez  Assez de céréales /ah say dsay ray al/Listen

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beaucoup  Beaucoup de bonbons /boe cood bon bon/

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trop  Trop de nouilles /t-rho dnoo yuh/Listen

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Too many choices  Trop de choix /t-rho dshwah/Listen

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*Notice how most nouns are in the plural? Voitures, bonbons, nouilles… except salt and beer which are not considered countable. But bonbon and noodle are, as opposed to English. For an extensive list comparing the two languages, click here.

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Other quantities

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Sometimes, you need to be even more precise. In the case of a specific quantity, the structure remains the same as above:

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une barre de chocolatUne barre de chocolat /ünn bahrduh show coe lah/Listen

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  Un morceau de gâteau /ehn mor sowdgah toe/Listen

.

un paquet de gomme Un paquet de chewing gum /ehn pahked shwing gumuh/Listen

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un verre de lait  Un verre de lait /ehn vairduh lay/Listen

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un biberon de lait Un biberon de lait /ehn bib rondlay/Listen

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un panier de fruits Un panier de fruits /ehn pah nee ayd frwee/Listen

.

une darne de poisson Une darne de poisson /ünn dahrnduh pwass own/Listen

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 une rondelle de salamiUne rondelle de salami /ünn ron delduh sah lah me/Listen

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 une tranche de painUne tranche de pain /ünn tron shduh pehn/Listen

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un litre de vin Un litre de vin /ehn leetrhuh dvehn/Listen

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(More quantities)

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Quelques, plusieurs, certains, aucun

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These expressions, which are called “adjectifs indéfinis” (indefinite determiners),  do not follow the above structure using “de”. They are used directly before the noun:

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quelques palmiers  Quelques palmiers /kelkuh pahl mee ay/ Listen

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plusieurs pingouins   Plusieurs pingouins /plü zee uhr pehn goo ehn/ Listen

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certains jours   Certains jours /ser tehn zhoor/ Listen 

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aucun problème Aucun problème /oh kehn pro bleh muh/ Listen

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Difference Between…

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certains and des: both mean “some”. “certains” is sometimes clearer.

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aucun and pas de: no difference.

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Over To You!

Listen and fill in the blanks (Via M. Parmentier & D. Potvin / En bons termes / Pearson Education – Canada)

Choose and click (Via French Online Exercises / CMU Carnegie Mellon University – USA)

Precise quantities: Click and drag (Via Hélène Weinachter / Exercices de français – Le Point du FLE – France)

And click and drag (Via Inmaculada Bosque Sendra / Exercices de révision – Spain)

Testez-vous! (Via Français interactif / University of Texas at Austin – USA)

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© Ouicestca 2013, tous droits réservés.

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