As you learn French, you will want to learn how to describe things in terms of quantity. From basic weights and measures to adverbs describing how many or how much, by the end of this vocabulary lesson, you will have a good understanding of quantifying things.

This lesson is for an intermediate level student as some of it discusses concepts like conjugating verbs and the adverbs used to define quantities. However, with a little study and practice, any student of French can follow the lesson.

## Quantities, Weights, and Measures (*Les Quantités, les Poids et les Mesures*)

To begin the lesson, let's look at easy French words that describe simple quantities, weights, and measurements.

can, box, tin | une boîte de |

bottle | une bouteille de |

box | un carton de |

tablespoon | une cuillère à soupe de |

teaspoon | une cuillère à thé de |

gram | un gramme |

kilogram | un kilogramme deun kilo de |

liter | un litre de |

pound | une livre de |

mile | un mille |

foot | un pied |

jar, cup | un pot de |

inch | un pouce |

cup | une tasse de |

glass | un verre de |

## Adverbs of Quantity (*Adverbes de quantité*)

French adverbs of quantity explain how many or how much.

Adverbs of quantity (except ** très - very**) are often followed by

**+ noun. When this happens, the noun usually does not have an article in front of it; i.e.,**

*de***stands alone, with no definite article.***

*de*- There are a lot of problems. -
*Il y a***beaucoup de**problèmes. - I have fewer students than Thierry. -
*J'ai***moins d'**étudiants que Thierry.

*This does not apply to the starred adverbs below, which are always followed by the definite article.

**Exception**: When the noun after * de *refers to specific people or things, the definite article is used and contracts with

*just as the partitive article would. Compare the following sentences to the above examples to see what is meant by 'specific'.*

**de**- A lot
**of the problems**are serious. -*Beaucoup**des problèmes**sont graves.*

- We are referring to specific problems, not problems in general. - Few
**of Thierry's students**are here. -*Peu**des étudiants de Thierry**sont ici.*

- This is a specific group of students, not students in general.

To further your understanding of the adverbs used with quantities, read: Du, De La, Des… Expressing Unspecified Quantities In French.

- Verb conjugations may be singular or plural, depending on the number of the noun that follows.
- Approximate numbers (see below) like
*une douzaine*,*une centaine*follow the same rules.

quite, fairly, enough | assez (de) |

as much, as many | autant (de) |

a lot, many | beaucoup (de) |

quite a few | bien de* |

how many, much | combien (de) |

more | davantage |

more | encore de* |

around, approximately | environ |

the majority of | la majorité de* |

the minority of | la minorité de* |

less, fewer | moins (de) |

a number of | un nombre de |

quite a few | pas mal de |

few, little, not very | (un) peu (de) |

most | la plupart de* |

more | plus (de) |

a lot of | une quantité de |

only | seulement |

so | si |

so much, so many | tant (de) |

so | tellement |

very | très |

too much, too many | trop (de) |

## Approximate Numbers (*Nombres approximatifs*)

When you want to make an estimate or take a guess, you can use approximate numbers. Most approximate French numbers are formed with the cardinal number, minus the final ** e** (if there is one), plus the suffix

**-**.

*aine*about eight [days] (about a week) | une huitaine |

about ten (note that x in dix changes to z) |
une dizaine |

a dozen | une douzaine |

about fifteen [days] (about two weeks) | une quinzaine |

about twenty | une vingtaine |

about thirty | une trentaine |

about forty | une quarantaine |

about fifty | une cinquantaine |

about sixty | une soixantaine |

about a hundred | une centaine |

about a thousand | un millier |

Approximate numbers are treated grammatically as expressions of quantity. Like all expressions of quantity, approximate numbers must be joined to the noun they modify with ** de**.

- about 10 students -
*une dizaine d'étudiants* - about 40 books -
*une quarantaine de livres* - hundreds of cars -
*des centaines de voitures* - thousands of documents -
*des milliers de documents*

Note that in English, it's typical to talk about "dozens" of something, whereas in French it's more natural to say *dizaines* rather than the literal equivalent *douzaines*:

- dozens of ideas -
*des dizaines d'idées*