Well, I'm not a French speaker by far, but if I may offer an answer, it is like our English "a dozen" which to other languages may not make sense. Dozen means 12, but we don't ever say "It is about a twelve" or "it is about dozen." We say "it is about 12" and "it is about A dozen" just like the French say, "it is about A DIZAINE." Make sense?
The English word "dozen" is probably related to the French word "douze". It all makes sense now!
You nailed it, despite not being a French speaker. This is the French equivalent of a non-existent English word for something like a dozen but with 10, not 12. The only caveat is that it's more approximate than a dozen usually is ("about ten"). It's difficult to see why it needs the article (except for the technical reason that it's a noun) until you imagine such a word.
Also, in English - when dealing with metric measurements - it is more correct to talk about "tens of …" rather than "dozens of …", the latter of which is based on imperial measurements, a system formally standardized as recent as the early 1970s.
Mathematically, a collection of items is grouped by powers of ten. For example, when wtiting a monetary amount on a cheque, it is common to use 12/100s to denote twelve hundredths of one dollar or twelve cents of 10/100.
*Fun fact about 12 and "a baker's dozen": http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/words/intro.htm
Such a practice was not used in Australia on cheques. The word "cents" was used instead of "/100s".
Yes, understandably. The words «centaines» [fr] and «cents» [en] stem from the root of the Latin word «centum», which means hundreds. Hence the phrase, "hundredths of one dollar", i.e. cents.
Any guesses why dix became dizaine (instead of dixaine) ? They result in the same sound, by default if nothing else!
They don't though, since an 'x' between two vowels is always pronounced like 'ks', e.g. « rixe », « luxure », « maxillaire », « fixait ». The spelling change preserves the expected pronunciation, and avoids creating an exception.
My answer: "I have some ten friends" was rejected. I don't understand why.
It's less common and of a somewhat rarified register nowadays, but it's not wrong and I like that you tried it out.
Duolingo displayed "dozen" in a correct answer for "dizaine" in a previous answer, but when i try to use it, it gives me a mistake. Can it ever mean "dozen," or should it always be translated as "around ten?"
France having been on the metric system for centuries, we usually say "une dizaine" as a correct equivalent to the English "dozen".
"Une douzaine" does exist as well, generally for things sold by 12: eggs in particular.
However, Duo is probably inconsistent if "dozen" is correct to translate "dizaine" here and not there.
Edit October 13, 2017: This comment is 4 years old. Since then, potential inconsistencies have been reviewed and corrected.
OMG each time when I'm so confused I see your comments which totally save my motivation.. thanks so much
How strict is this? In English a dozen is 12, no more no less. What number range is covered by une dizaine?
We have in spanish the words "decena" that means 10 and "dozena" 12, but is not "around 10 or 12", it is what it is, we use also the metric system as you know. Thanks Sitesurf for the support.
Yeah, same in Portuguese! This took me off guard, now I have to get used to it. :P
I used to think of "une dizaine" as "about ten" but now that I've seen your comment I'll forever think of it as a metric dozen! MDR!
Just to add (I hope) a little to the discussion, and all that Sitesurf has explained: I think (from reading) that it is fairly common to use these "-aine" words, when giving approximate ages. As in, "la femme a une quarantaine d'années", if the woman is in her forties. (I hope I've used that correctly.)
Sitesurf has offered generous and helpful support, explaining the suffix "-aîné" to numbers for which I feel grateful as a leaner. I would still like to query whether the equivalent in U.K. spoken English is not the "-ish". We may say tenish or twentish or fiftish to give a round figure. This suffix is not confined to figures. It could trail any noun as in rightish or poorish. At the risk of being borish, in spoken English the "-ish" would render the word "about" redundant and yet preserve the implied approximation and vagueness. I would therefore suggest that "tenish" is more appropriate translation of "dizaine".
I can't comment on the prevalence of "-ish" in UK English, but my sense is that in North American English it tends not to be used all that commonly with numbers in full sentences.
More likely: "Q: How many friends does he have? A: Tenish." Less likely: "He has tenish friends."
It's not unheard, but I don't think it has the same currency as "-aine", and I would advise non-native speakers especially to take some care.
A fairly common possibility here is "or so": "I have ten or so friends (...that would be interested in your proposal etc.)."
i have put "... d'amis" before for this exercise and it was, of course accepted. but i wanted to see if, when referring to a group of all female friends, one could use: "j'ai une dizaine d'amies." it was marked wrong. so, why?
Am i right in assuming that you wouldn't use dizaine if you know for certain that you have an exact multiple of ten?
That's right. Actually "une dizaine" can be any number y between "une demi-douzaine" and "une douzaine.
Thanks Sitesurf. Am I also right in assuming that between 12 and 18 that you can't use dizaine? which would make a dizaine a spread of numbers between demi douzaines which also contains a number that is an exact multiple of ten.
Plus what call it when douzaines meets dizaines (e.g 60)?
Between 12 and 18, you will use "une quinzaine".
For 60 eggs, you will certainly say "5 dozens", because eggs are sold by multiples of 6 or 12. And then it will be an exact number.
For @60 pieces of things sold per unit or per "dizaines", you will say "une soixantaine".
Thanks again. Its much clearer to me now. I originally had the misconception that you could say "deux/trois/etc.. dizaines"
It makes sense now I think about it that you would say "roughly twenty" rather than "two roughly tens"
Except in Germany, eggs are sold in a carton of 10, not 12. So you wouldn't say Ein Duzend Eier. BTW, as you know, we say 5 dozen, not 5 dozens. Only use I can think of for dozens would be, e.g., "Dozens and dozens of people."
My Oxford Hachette French dictionary gives "ten" as the first definition of dizaine.
Just so. The meaning will be contextual.
However, generally speaking une dizaine is more often an approximation, and Duo's injunction against "ten" is a reminder of that fact.
Unless it was referring to something that commonly came in sets of ten, "une dizaine" would typically be understood to mean "about ten", whereas to specify exactly ten, the word used would simply be "dix".
Here's a thread where you can read more than many might care to read about the issue:
Can I say, I have ten-ish friends? I know there's such use in English but not very sure if it works this way
In spoken, informal English, you could; I don't see why that wouldn't be an acceptable translation in that context. However, I'm not sure that Duo would accept that as answer.
In English you would say you have about ten friends, not ten-ish, so the French noun translates well.
You are right, this is an acceptable translation, if you remember that the Fr equivalent is "une dizaine" = about/around 10.
My sense is that there would be some lingustic slippage in translation, particularly in the case of an approximation, given that French would tend to default to "dizaine" more often, and English has "dozen" only. I believe it was CJ.Dennis who once wrote:
I used to think of "une dizaine" as "about ten" but now that I've seen your comment I'll forever think of it as a metric dozen! MDR!
are there other numbers that can be said this way or is there some king of application of the suffix with all numbers?
une huitaine, une dizaine, une douzaine, une quinzaine, une vingtaine, une trentaine, une quarantaine, une cinquantaine, une soixantaine, une centaine
The words septante, huitante or octante, and nonante seem to be in some use, in some French speaking countries for some purposes. Are French children taught these for math/science? I love your language's counting system but our own pre decimal has nearly gone. But eggs are still in dozens very often, and the pint is booming.
'Pals' was dismissed out of hand so may I ask, what colloquial terms do the French have for friends? We of course say 'mates/ pals/ etc.
Why de and not des? e.g. in a previous example we had Trois et cinq sont des chiffres.
In both cases the de/des is followed by a plural noun and in neither case is there an article.
Expressions of quantity use "de," and generally not "des": un peu de, beaucoup de, une dizaine de, un verre de, etc.
As the following link points out, using "des" with an expression of quantity would add the word "some," and you wouldn't say "I have about ten some friends." http://french.about.com/od/grammar/fl/Expressing-A-Specific-Quantity-In-French.htm
This link gives more expressions and the few exceptions: http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa060300q.htm
but you can say 'i have some ten friends' which is the same as 'i have about ten friends'
French treats "dizaine" the way English treats many other measure words denoting quantity, like "pound" or "liter" or "couple".
A pound of flour, a liter of water, a couple of friends.
Une dizaine d'amis.
If I buy a "dizaine" eggs in France would I get about 10 or exactly 12?
In France, you can buy eggs in boxes of 4, 6 or 12. Therefore "une douzaine d'oeufs" is exactly 12.
You usually do not buy "une dizaine d'oeufs".
« Une dizaine » is about ten. « Une douzaine » is about twelve, which is where we get the English word "dozen".
Unless it was referring to something that commonly came in sets of ten, "une dizaine" would be understood to mean "about ten", whereas to specify exactly ten, the word used would simply be "dix".
i have the same question. if you asked for a dozen loaves of bread at a bakery you wouldn't expect to get anything other than 12 even though loaves of bread don't come in dozens & the same for anything else unless you also said 'about' before dozen so that it was known you meant a rough number instead
French and English are a bit different on this point. The French word is generally an approximation, and the English word is generally a precise quantity.
Context can shift the meaning in both languages.
That is also right: les dizaines (groupes de dix unités), les centaines (groupes de cent unités), les milliers (groupes de mille unités) and even les dizaines de milliers (groupes de 10 000 unités), are used in maths as exact measures.
When you say "j'ai une dizaine de carottes" or "il y a des dizaines de milliers de gens qui protestent.", these measures are approximations.
Each language can, and does, use its own definitions of similar words. As such the Portuguese and Spanish words have no bearing on the French. Different countries speaking the same language can give different meanings to the same word too! Perhaps in Belgium « une dizaine » is exactly ten (I have no knowledge about this) but in France it can be used for "approximately ten".
I believe "dizaine(s)" is applied to the tens position of a number in mathematics (i.e. the second digit to the left of the decimal). But it seems that unless it refers to something that typically comes in a set of ten, it's most likely to be (and to be understood as) an approximation.
I accidentally used English "dozren" here instead of saying ten, although I did know it meant around ten. However "dozen" was accepted. Surely that's not right, since dozen means 12.. They accepted a wrong answer! But I don't know how to report it, so I'm, saying it here.
So, the correct answer for me came up as "I have a dozen friends" when I put "I have ten friends" marked as wrong, oddly, since dizaine means the same as a dozen but ten. There isn't really an English equivalent. But, une douzaine does describe a dozen, so why bother with dizaine if you mean douzaine? Douzaine is used more often anyway unless you're talking about decades.
"Dizaine" is often an approximation, unless you're talking about things that come in sets of ten, while "douzaine" is often applied to sets of twelve exactly. "Ten" isn't accepted in this context because it's too exact (as friends don't come in precise sets of 10). Insofar as "dozen" can also be an approximation, it overlaps in meaning with "dizaine". About ten is close to about twelve.
I'm not sure about your last sentence, or how we'd determine how often "dizaine" was used without it referring to precise tens. However, if you put "dizaine d'années,dizaine,douzaine" in Google's Ngram Viewer (choose French as the search language), you'll see that there are many more hits for "dizaine", even accounting for "dizaine d'années".
The Word "dizaine" can be translated "about ten" and also "ten". (Larousse) .So, there are two possible translations for "J'ai une dizaine d'amis"
1- I have about ten friends
2- I have ten friends
Imagine I have ten children. I would never say "I have about ten children"!!
But DL doesn't accept the second one
If you had exactly 10 children, hopefully you'd be pretty certain about it. Friends are a little different.
What if I were to say <<J'ai une dizaine d'amis.>> and actually mean I have exactly ten friends? Is there some rule here that I'm not seeing that signifies the <<around/ about/ approx>>? Also, the "correct answer" Duo says is <<I have a dozen friends>>, but dizaine=10 and dozen=12... I guess that goes to some <<around/ about/ approx>> rule?
The "rule" comes from conventional usage. If you happen to have exactly ten friends and want to make it clear, use "dix". Otherwise people will understand you to be approximating.
What if I were to say "I have an animal as a pet" and actually mean I have a dog? My statement is consistent with the fact that I have a dog, but it doesn't provide the same precise information.
The answer to your final question is yes. I gather that because "dizaine" is typically an approximation, and "dozen" can be as well (and would likely be interpreted as such in this context), "dozen" is also allowed here.
The "normal speed" voice didn't pronounce "une" whatsoever but the turtle, slow voice did. Why? Is the tortoise smarter than the woman robot speaker? haha Even if you speak fast in English you wouldn't leave out "a" in "a dozen". I did report this phenomenon.
There is not much we can do to polish the TTS that Duolingo uses. However, please note that you should always expect a determiner (un, une, des, le, la, les...) in front of a noun.
"Is the tortoise smarter than the woman robot speaker?" Ha ha ha ha! You made me laugh. Hey! You should write sentences for Duolingo!
Excuse me? I wrote I have a decade of friends and it corrected me to "I have a dozen friends." Admittedly, a decade is probably not the correct word to use (I was at a loss) but a dozen means twelve not ten. This is baloney.
It's not a perfect correspondence, but think of it this way:
"Dizaine" is usually an approximation, unless we're talking about things that come in precise groups of ten, so here you should think of it as "about ten".
"Dozen" can also be an approximation, and would likely be interpreted as such in this context, so we have "about twelve".
Insofar as they can both be approximations, and given that there's not a huge difference between "about ten" and "about twelve", "dizaine" and "dozen" are sometimes used to translate one another.
French has "douzaine" as well, but it's typically reserved for things that come in precise sets of twelve, such as eggs (as far as I've gathered so far).