Skip to the content

The preposition da links an expression of quantity to a substantival part of the sentence that shows something "of substance" (something unlimited and undefined):

quantity "substance"
unu kilogramo da pano
litro da lakto
skatolo da rizo
amason da komencantoj
du milionoj da rubloj
iom da valizoj
tiom da feliĉo
multe da problemoj

The expression of quantity shows how much of something there is. It is a substantival clause, an adverb of quantity, or an adverbial particle of quantity.

The expression "of substance" shows what the quantity consists of:

  • En la botelo estas litro da lakto. - In the bottle there is a liter of milk.
  • Ŝi aĉetis faskon da ligno. - She bought a bundle of wood.
  • Tiu ĉi rivero havas ducent kilometrojn da longo. - This river has a length of two hundred kilometers.
  • Mi neniam prenas kun mi multon da pakaĵo. - I never take a lot of luggage with me.
  • En la urbo troviĝas multe da aŭtoj. - In the city there are many cars.
  • La riĉulo havas multe da mono. - The rich person has a lot of money.
  • Li havas pli da mono, ol li povas kalkuli. - He has more money than he can count.

Numeralsunu, du, tri, kvar, kvin, ses, sep, ok, naŭ, dek, cent, mil — do not require da. They are used as a epithet of a noun:

  • Tie loĝas du Esperantistoj. - Two Esperantists live there.
  • Mi havas cent pomojn. - I have a hundred apples.
  • Tiu ĉi vilaĝo havas du mil loĝantojn. - This village has two thousand inhabitants.

Number words that are nouns like miliono, miliardo, deko and cento however do require da:

  • Tiu ĉi urbo havas milionon da loĝantoj. - This city has a million inhabitants.
  • En la kesto estas cento da pomoj. - In this box there are a hundred apples.

Normally a da expression is found immediately after its expression of quantity, but in some cases the da expression stands alone. Then, normally, the expression of quantity is found in another place in the phrase (due to unusual word order). The word indicating quantity can, however, sometimes be understood through context:

  • Da ŝafoj kaj bovoj li havis multe. = Li havis multe da ŝafoj kaj bovoj. - Of sheep and cattle they have a lot.
  • Da pulvo ni havas kiom vi volas. = Ni havas tiom da pulvo, kiom vi volas. - Powder we have as much as you want.

The N-ending shouldn't be used after da

After the preposition da never use an N-ending. The substance in a da-expression is never itself the object. However the quantitative expression before da can be the grammatical object:Li portas multon da valizoj. (He carries a lot of baggage.)

But the expression of quantity is often a quantitative adverb or a quantitative adverbial particle, which can't receive the N-ending, even when it has the role of the object:

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

    Absolutely not: La riĉulo havas multe da monon.

  • Kiom da pano vi volas? = Kiel grandan kvanton da pano vi volas? - How much bread do you want? =What quantity of bread do you want?

    Absolutely not: Kiom da panon vi volas?

When shouldn't da be used?

If the phrase isn't talking about quantity, measure, or number, but, for example, about type, da should not be used; ordinarily, de is used here:

  • Ni manĝis specon de fiŝo. - We ate a species of fish.

    The word speco (species, type) can never indicate a quantity, a measurement or a number. So never say speco da...:

  • Ĉe ni estas manko de akvo. - We are out of water.

    The word manko never expresses a quantity, measurement or number.

  • Pro perdo de kuraĝo ili ne venis. - For loss of courage they didn't come.

    The word perdo never expresses a quantity, measure, or number.

Never use da with relation to an adjective, even if it expresses quantity, measure, or number:

  • Ni renkontis multajn homojn. (= Ni renkontis multe/multon da homoj.) - We met many people.

    Quantitative adjectives like multa(j), kelka(j), pluraj and others are linked directly to the noun being measured as an epithet without da.

  • La botelo estas plena de/je akvo. - The bottle is full of water.

    The adjective plena in any case does not express a quantity, but a state. Also the adverb plene does not express a quantity: Tie estas plene de/je homoj. Never sayplena da... or plene da....

  • Tie ni trovis ĉambron plenan de/je rubaĵoj. - There we found a room full of garbage.

A clause with a determinerla (the), tiu (that), ĉiu (every), a possessive pronoun... — is defined, and is therefore limited and individualized (non-substantial). Therefore, da should not be used before those clauses; de or el should be used instead.

  • Ni manĝis iom de/el la pano. - We ate some of the bread.
  • Ili aĉetis kelkajn botelojn de/el tiuj vinoj. - They bought a few bottles of these wines.

A personal pronoun ordinarily shows one or several defined individuals. Therefore, da should not be used before a personal pronoun; de or el should be used instead:

  • Ni manĝis iom de/el ĝi (= el la pano). - We ate some of it (=some of the bread).
  • Ili aĉetis kelkajn botelojn de/el ili (= de/el tiuj vinoj). - They bought some bottles of them (of those wines).

If the quantity or number is already shown by a numeral or adjective, da should not be used; de or el are used instead:

  • Ŝi pagis kotizon de cent eŭroj. - She paid a few of one hundred euros.

    The word kotizo does not express a quantity. But you can say ŝi pagis cent eŭrojn da kotizo.

  • Ni gustumis tre multe de unu vino. - We tasted a lot of one wine.
  • Ili manĝis ĉiom de/el tuta bovo. - They ate an awful lot of a whole cow. (Note:ĉiom = every amount, "ĉiom" is rarely used.)
  • Li trinkis iom de/el kelkaj bieroj. - He drank a bit out of several beers.

If a singular noun already clearly expresses a limited quantity, da should not be used:

  • Unu tago estas tricent-sesdek-kvinonotricent-sesdek-sesono de jaro. - One day is three hundred and sixty-fifth or three hundred and sixty-sixth of a year.

    Jaro in itself shows a clearly limited time frame.

  • Ili fortranĉis duonon de centimetro. - They cut off a half of a centimeter.

Some words express quantity in some cases, and something else in other cases. The intended meaning decides whether da or another preposition should be used:

  • Glaso de vino estas glaso, en kiu antaŭe sin trovis vino, aŭ kiun oni uzas por vino; glaso da vino estas glaso plena je vino. - A wine glass (glaso de vino) is a glass used for drinking wine; a glass of wine (glaso da vino) is a glass full of wine.

    Glaso in one context represents an item, in another it represents a quantity.

  • Ili konstruis grandan reton da/de komputiloj. - They built a great network of computers.

    If the phrase granda reto (great network) shows how many computers there were, then say da komputiloj. But if granda reto shows how the computers were connected (in the form of a great network), then say de komputiloj.

The use of da, therefore, depends on what the speaker wants to say. To help decide on the correct form, you may imagine a question that the sentence might answer:

  • Kiom da soldatoj estis? — Estis grupo da soldatoj! - How many soldiers were there? — It was a group of soldiers!
  • Kia grupo ĝi estas? — Ĝi estas grupo de soldatoj! - What kind of group is it? — It's a group of soldiers!
  • Kiom da rozoj vi volas? — Mi volas bukedon da rozoj! - How many roses do you want? — I want a bouquet of roses!
  • Kian bukedon vi volas? — Mi volas bukedon de rozoj! - What kind of bouquet do you want? — I want a bouquet of roses!

Often you have to check whether the following word is more important (→ da), or the preceding word (→ de). Grupo da soldatoj (a group of soldiers) are first of all soldiers (in sufficient quantity to form a group). Grupo de soldatoj are a group (composed of soldiers). Bukedo da rozoj (a bouquet of roses) are roses (in sufficient quantity to make a bouquet). Bukedo de rozoj (or bukedo el rozoj) is a bouquet (consisting of roses).

The use of the preposition da has evolved and changed somewhat over the history of Esperanto. In old texts, you can find da used in cases where it should be de or el, according to the explanations above.


In spoken Esperanto, an incorrect usage of da has become widespread; it may be referred to as "da-ism". In this usage, da is not followed by an expression whose role it can mark. Da ceases to be a preposition. In this case, da only shows that the expression preceding it relates to quantity:

  • Mi havas multe da.
  • Kiom da vi volas? Da in this case does not relate to the following vi.
  • Ili kunportis tiom da, ke ĉiu povis ricevi iom da.

Among other sources, many textbooks are responsible for this misunderstanding; they teach da as if it belonged mainly to the word preceding it. But da refers primarily to what follows it.

Some assert that this usage refers to the normal process of understanding missing words through context:

  • Mi havas multe da mono.Mi havas multe da. - I have a lot of money.
  • Kiom da viando vi volas?Kiom da vi volas? - How much meat do you want?

When we leave out something because it is understood then we also leave out the preposition: Li estas instruisto de lingvoj.Li estas instruisto. Not: Li estas instruisto de. Therefore if we want to leave out the word after da, then we also leave out da.

Just simply say: Mi havas multe. (I have a lot) Kiom vi volas? (How much do you want?) Ili kunportis tiom, ke ĉiu povis ricevi iom. (They brought so much that everyone can get some.) Words like multe, tiom and iom are quantities in themselves. They would never take da to express a meaning of quantity. If, however you want to show what the quanity consists of, then use da,but only with a noun following.

Back to the top