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Words of quantity sometimes behave in a different manner. Words with quantitative meanings can be nouns (multo, kelko etc), adjectives (multa, pluraj etc), adverbs (multe, sufiĉe etc), and adverbial particles (pli, tiom etc).

Nouns of quantity

Nouns of quantity behave just like normal nouns. Often they are modified by a da-expression , which shows what the quantity konsists of:

  • Kiam mi ien veturas, mi neniam prenas kun mi multon da pakaĵo. - When I travel somewhere I never take a lot of baggage with me.

Grammatically the word of quantity is the main word, but when seen in the context of meaning the da-expression is often more important. Sometimes the noun of such a da-expression is treated as if it were the main word:

  • Tiam grandega multo da vortoj fariĝus en la skribado tute nediferencigeblaj unu de alia. - Then a large number of words would, in writing, become indistinguishable one from the other.

    Grammatically nediferencigeblaj relates to multo, but has a J-ending, because in its meaning it correlates strongly with vortoj. In fact the sentence would become quite strange if one were to say nediferencigebla without the J, because the expression following, unu de alia, imposes the idea of several individuals or items. Compare with the following example: Grandega multo da vortoj fariĝas tute senbezona por lernado.

Instead of multo and malmulto we usually prefer the adverbial forms multe and malmulte.

Adverbs of quantity

Adverbs of quantity often appear in sentences as if they were nouns acting as a subject, object and so on. Basically this only concerns multe, sufiĉe, kelke and their variations. However the use of kelke is very rare nowadays:

  • En la kelo troviĝas multe da rubaĵoj. - The the cellar there is a lot of rubbish.

    Multe (a lot of) is the subject. One can also say multo da rubaĵoj.

  • El ŝia buŝo eliris kelke da perloj kaj kelke da diamantoj. - Out of her mouth came a few pearls and a few diamonds.

    The two kelke are subjects of eliris. One could say kelko da perloj/diamantoj, but kelko is practically never used. Nowadays more often than not, we use kelkaj: kelkaj perloj, kelkaj diamantoj

  • La riĉulo havas multe da mono. - The rich guy has a lot of money.

    Multe is an object, but it can't take the N-ending because it is an adverb.

  • Mi havas sufiĉe da laboro. - I have enough work.

Similarly you can use adverbial particles of quantity.

  • Ĉu vi scias, kiom estis da mortigitoj? - Do you know how many fatalities there were?

    Kiom is the subject of estis.

  • Prenu tiom da mono, kiom vi volas. - Take as much money as you want.

    Tiom and kiom are objects.

  • Pri tiom da feliĉo mi eĉ ne sonĝis, kiam mi estis ankoraŭ la malbela anasido! - About that much happiness I never even dreamt, when I was still an ugly duckling!

    Tiom is a pri-adject. (circumstantial compliment)

  • Restas ankoraŭ iom da problemoj. - Some problems still remain.

    Iom is the subject.

  • Observu pli da ordo! - Keep more order!

    Pli is the object.

  • Tro da kuiristoj kaĉon difektas. - Too many cooks spoil the porridge. [In English usually "the broth" or "the soup".]

    Tro is the subject.

When an adverb of quantity is followed by a da-expression, it may often appear that the adverb is not the main word, but that the noun after the da-expression is the main word. For the meaning, the da-expression is more important, but from the grammar angle the adverb is the main word. But when an adverb of quantity + a da-expression has a modifier then usually this description relates to the da-expression although it is not the main word: Multe da akvo estis verŝita sur ĝin. But if a da-expression is not present, you can relate the description only to the adverb, and consequently one must use the E-form: Multe estis farite.

Adjectives of quantity instead of adverbs of quantity.

One can often replace an adverb of quantity by an adjective of quantity. Then the noun of the da-expression becomes the main word and da disappears:

  • En la subtegmento troviĝas multaj malnovaj vestaĵoj....multe/multo da malnovaj vestaĵoj. - In the attic many old articles of clothing can be found.≈ ...a lot of old clothes.
  • La riĉulo havas multan monon....multe/multo da mono. - The rich person has much money. ≈ ...a great deal of money.

There is however a difference of nuance. Multaj and kelkaj can be used with regard to individual, separate things, and also with regard to an indistinguishable mass of something. Multe and kelke can only be used with an indistinguishable mass. So one cannot say: Kelke da homoj sentas sin la plej feliĉaj, kiam ili vidas la suferojn de siaj najbaroj. One must say Kelkaj homoj..., because we're talking about the feelings of each person taken individually.

Degree and quantity

Degree and quantity are quite distinct, but sometimes they look similar.

Tre and multe

  • tre = "to a high degree, with great intensity"
  • multe = "in a large amount, of long duration, often repeated"

With adjectives and adverbs we almost always use tre, but we can use multe when clearly dealing with quantity or frequency, but we can also use tre when dealing with degree or intensity:

  • Ĝi estas tre bona. - It is very good.
  • Tie troviĝas tre grandaj domoj. - Very big houses are to be found there.
  • Mi tre ŝatas Berlinon. = Mi intense ŝatas Berlinon. - I very much like Berlin. = I intensely like Berline
  • Mi tre amas ŝin. = Mi intense amas ŝin. - I love her very much. = I love her intensely
  • Mi havas multe da mono. - I have a lot of money.
  • Ŝi multe pensis pri tio. = Ŝi longe pensis pri tio. - She thought a lot about that. = She thought about that for a long time.
  • Kiu multe parolas, ne multe faras. - Whoever talks a lot, does not do much.
  • Li tre multe helpis al mi. - He helped me a great deal.

    Tre modifies multe. Multe modifies helpis.

To modify pli and tro we use multe:

  • Ĝi estis multe pli granda ol antaŭe. - It was a lot bigger than before.
  • Ĝi fariĝis multe tro nigra. - It became much too black.

Kiel and tiel

The correlatives kiel and tiel show not only manner but also degree. They are used in the same places where tre is used:

  • Vi estas tiel bela, tiel bona kaj tiel honesta, ke mi devas fari al vi donacon. - You are so beautiful, so good and so honest that I must give you a present.

    One can say:tre bela, tre bona and tre honesta.

  • La nokto estis tiel malluma, ke ni nenion povis vidi eĉ antaŭ nia nazo. - The night was so dark that we could see nothing, even in front of our noses.

    It is possible to say: tre malluma. (very dark)

Kiom and tiom

The correlatives kiom kaj tiom show quantity. They are used there where you can use multe:

  • Mi volas tiom da terpomoj, kiom mi povas porti. - I want as many potatoes as I can carry.

    One can say: volas multe and povas porti multe.

  • Ŝi tiom laboris, ke ŝi fariĝis ĉefo de la firmao. - She worked so much that she became the boss of the company.

    One can say: multe laboris.

Before multe we often prefer tiom, because multe is a word of quantity: Nun li estis ja riĉa, havante tiom multe da mono.Or ... havante tiel multe da mono. Or ...havante tiom da mono.

"Tiom-kiom-ism"

Kiom and tiom are sometimes used with degree instead of kiel and tiel, when one wants to strongly emphasize. This is all right. But some Esperantists use only kiom and tiom instead of kiel and tiel to show degree as if they were always emphasizing, for example: Mi estas tiom forta, kiom vi. Compare this with a sentence from the Fundamento: Mi estas tiel forta, kiel vi. This tendency, this "tiom-kiom-ism" is totally foreign to the Fundamento and to Zamenhof's own usage. Besides that, people who constantly use tiom-kiom lose the ability to use tiom and kiom for emphasis.

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