Une dizaine = Ten or so (approximate numbers)

Look at these sentences using approximate numbers:

J'ai une dizaine de chats.
I have about ten cats.

Il achète une trentaine de poires.

He is buying thirty or so pears.

Il y avait une centaine de personnes ce jour-là.
There were a hundred or so people that day.

Je veux deux douzaines de pommes, s'il vous plaît.
I want two dozen apples, please.

In French, to express an approximative number (ten or so, about fifteen...), you can add une/deux/trois ... in front of the number and the suffix -aine at the end of it, as follows:

Number Approximate
10 / dix une dizaine
12 / douze une douzaine
15 / quinze une quinzaine
20 / vingt une vingtaine
30 / trente une trentaine
40 / quarante une quarantaine
50 / cinquante une cinquantaine
60 / soixante une soixantaine
100 / cent une centaine

This is the equivalent in English of saying ten or so, around twenty, or fifteen odd. As in English, douzaine (dozen) means 12 rather than being an approximate number, but the construction is the same as for approximate numbers.

Note: These approximate numbers are feminine, and followed by de. 

ATTENTION: Whereas you'd tend to say in English dozens and dozens, in French the use of dizaine (ten or so) will be more colloquial: des dizaines et des dizaines.

Des dizaines et des dizaines de personnes sont venues à la foire.
Dozens and dozens of people attended the fair.

 

Examples and resources

Il achète une trentaine de poires.

He is buying thirty or so pears.


Je veux deux douzaines de pommes, s'il vous plaît.
I want two dozen apples, please.


Des dizaines et des dizaines de personnes sont venues à la foire.
Dozens and dozens of people attended the fair.


Il y avait une centaine de personnes ce jour-là.
There were a hundred or so people that day.


J'ai une dizaine de chats.
I have about ten cats.


Q&A Forum 8 questions, 11 answers

IanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Partie une quinzième de jours

To "Je suis partie ________ jours."

I answered "...pour une quinzième de..."

Is it incorrect to say "partie pour une quinzième de.."  ?

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Ian,

The word is ‘quinzaine’ not ‘quinzième’ which a 15th of something.

Partie une quinzième de jours

To "Je suis partie ________ jours."

I answered "...pour une quinzième de..."

Is it incorrect to say "partie pour une quinzième de.."  ?

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HeatherB1Kwiziq community member

Il y avait une centaine de personnes ce jour-là.

The English translation of the above example should be “there were a hundred or so people that day” , not was a hundred. The total number of people overrides the fact that they are one hundred.

Asked 4 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Heather !

Ah! Definitely a tricky one for us Non-Native English ;)
Thanks very much for spotting it, it's now been fixed!

Merci encore et bonne journée !

Il y avait une centaine de personnes ce jour-là.

The English translation of the above example should be “there were a hundred or so people that day” , not was a hundred. The total number of people overrides the fact that they are one hundred.

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SusanA2Kwiziq community member

Regarding the last example. I find this contradicting!

I understand une dizaine means 10 or so.  As do all the other examples in the lesson.  Therefore, what is the difference with the last example?

Je veux deux douzaines de pommes....  Why does this also not mean:

I want two dozen or so/or approximately - apples>  ?

Thank you.

Asked 10 months ago
RonaldB1Kwiziq community member

It's explained in the lesson:

"As in English, douzaine (dozen) means 12 rather than being an approximate number, but the construction is the same as for approximate numbers."

Regarding the last example. I find this contradicting!

I understand une dizaine means 10 or so.  As do all the other examples in the lesson.  Therefore, what is the difference with the last example?

Je veux deux douzaines de pommes....  Why does this also not mean:

I want two dozen or so/or approximately - apples>  ?

Thank you.

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DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Environ

When the question "Je suis partie ___ jours" (I left for about fifteen days) is encountered in a quiz it may not be originating from this lesson yet the answer "pour environ quinze" is not accepted. Shouldn't it be? Aren't both this and "pour une quinzaine de" equally valid French here?

I can find examples of the environ version on the web including here:

http://context.reverso.net/translation/english-french/about+fifteen

Asked 11 months ago
DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I did some searching and found a possible answer.

If I had used the construction with pour ... environ it would need to follow the noun: pour quinze jours environ

Whereas if I had used a construction with pendant ... environ it would preceed the noun: pendant environ quinze jours.

That seems posible although I find what look like counter examples here: https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/traduction/pour+environ+10+heures.html

where a typical sentence reads: Luminosité minimale de 6 lumens pour environ 42 heures

although none used "pour" in the sense of "pendant".

Environ

When the question "Je suis partie ___ jours" (I left for about fifteen days) is encountered in a quiz it may not be originating from this lesson yet the answer "pour environ quinze" is not accepted. Shouldn't it be? Aren't both this and "pour une quinzaine de" equally valid French here?

I can find examples of the environ version on the web including here:

http://context.reverso.net/translation/english-french/about+fifteen

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Une douzaine de means twelve or about twelve

I think I have it now. It is only une douzaine de which can be precisely a dozen or about a dozen, the other -aine numbers are always approximate. Correct?
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Oui, c'est bien ça !

Une douzaine de means twelve or about twelve

I think I have it now. It is only une douzaine de which can be precisely a dozen or about a dozen, the other -aine numbers are always approximate. Correct?

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Je voudrais quinnze pommes v je voudrais une quinzaine de pommes?

If you wanted to say i would like 15 apples would you use quinze and une quinzaine de for about fifteen apples?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Yes, correct.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Jennifer !

If you wanted exactly 15 apples, then you'd use "quinze".
"Une quinzaine de" is a way to give an approximate amount :)

Bonne journée !

Je voudrais quinnze pommes v je voudrais une quinzaine de pommes?

If you wanted to say i would like 15 apples would you use quinze and une quinzaine de for about fifteen apples?

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MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

une douzaine = ?

I looked this up in Larousse online, and Collins Fr/En dictionary online. I was trying to figure out how to say "I want a dozen eggs" instead of "I want about a dozen eggs". --- http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/douzaine/26535 douzaine [duzεn] nom féminin 1. [douze] dozen 2. [environ douze] une douzaine de a dozen, around twelve une douzaine d'escargots a dozen snails une douzaine de pages about ou roughly twelve pages ---------------------------- http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/dizaine English translation of douzaine douzaine (duzɛn ) Translations feminine noun (= 12) "dozen" " ⇒ une douzaine d'œufs" "a dozen eggs" (= environ 12) une douzaine "a dozen or so" une douzaine de "about twelve", "a dozen or so" une douzaine de personnes "about twelve people" --------------------------------------------------------------- From above: une douzaine d'escargots a dozen snails (Larousse) une douzaine d'œufs a dozen eggs (Collins) (Unfortunate that both items start with vowels, thus d' instead of de. I doubt that makes a difference between "about a dozen" and "a dozen.) -------------------------------------------------------------- Help appreciated her. Thanks.
Asked 3 years ago
MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
p.s. It would be nice to be able to preview one's comment. It was a lot clearer b/c of line breaks I put in while typing, and as they appeared before I sent it off- not all mushed together as it appears. (Also, one could have a second look to correct typos: her = here
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Melody ! The fact is that "une douzaine de" carries exactly the same nuances of meaning as "a dozen" does in English. In some cases, it can mean exactly twelve , and in some other cases it can be more of an estimation. The difficulty here is that whereas in English you only use "dozen", in French, we have equivalent terms for other quantities (dizaine, quinzaine...). A way to emphasise the "estimation" sense could be to say "environ une douzaine de", but it would sound redundant, as the approximation is already carried in "douzaine". The context is key here. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Hi Aurelie, Thanks for the answer. It is very helpful. I'll stop driving myself crazy about this issue! So many words in French (and in English) depend on context. But not necessarily the same words! I saw that some had asked in the Qs how to know if "son frere" (sorry I can't type accents) meant his brother, or her brother. I've learned enough French to know that the answer to this is one "context is key", as you say. As to the English use of "dozen', I hadn't thought of it this way, before I read your comment. If say I "I want a dozen eggs", that means "I want exactly a dozen eggs, no more no less." But reading your comment I thought about me, Melody, saying "There were a dozen people at the meeting". I realized that my meaning would be "There were a dozen people at the meeting, more or less." I would not be saying (=meaning) "There were a dozen people at the meeting, I made an exact count." If I wanted to emphasize the exact number, I would way "There were twelve people at the meeting." Thanks again, as ever, for your helpful reply. Melody

une douzaine = ?

I looked this up in Larousse online, and Collins Fr/En dictionary online. I was trying to figure out how to say "I want a dozen eggs" instead of "I want about a dozen eggs". --- http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/douzaine/26535 douzaine [duzεn] nom féminin 1. [douze] dozen 2. [environ douze] une douzaine de a dozen, around twelve une douzaine d'escargots a dozen snails une douzaine de pages about ou roughly twelve pages ---------------------------- http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/dizaine English translation of douzaine douzaine (duzɛn ) Translations feminine noun (= 12) "dozen" " ⇒ une douzaine d'œufs" "a dozen eggs" (= environ 12) une douzaine "a dozen or so" une douzaine de "about twelve", "a dozen or so" une douzaine de personnes "about twelve people" --------------------------------------------------------------- From above: une douzaine d'escargots a dozen snails (Larousse) une douzaine d'œufs a dozen eggs (Collins) (Unfortunate that both items start with vowels, thus d' instead of de. I doubt that makes a difference between "about a dozen" and "a dozen.) -------------------------------------------------------------- Help appreciated her. Thanks.

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SteveC1Kwiziq community member

Hi How would you say about 70, 80 or 90 thanks

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Steve, You'd use one of the following with the number: environ à peu près approximativement plus ou moins

Hi How would you say about 70, 80 or 90 thanks

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