Esperanto Language Blog

Confusing “De” and “Da” Posted by on Mar 29, 2009 in Esperanto Language

Esperanto has two similar prepositions, “de” and “da,” that mean two different things but are similar enough to trip up students of other languages. Having studied Spanish as my first excursion into foreign language, “de” and “da” manage to confuse me on occasion. We shall have a look at them here today.

De” roughly means “from” or “of” in English. You use it in Esperanto to express origins, causes, properties of items (including possession), and on rare occasion, time.

Glaso de lakto – Glass of milk
Hundo de mi – My dog (literally, “dog of me” or “dog of mine”)
Li venas de la urbeto – He comes from the suburbs

Da,” on the other hand, is used to express quantities and units of measurement. This is where students of Spanish might trip up. In my mind, when I hear “pint of water,” I jump to the Spanish word “de” due to its similarity to the Esperanto word. However, the preposition “da” is the appropriate one in this context.

Litro da akvo – Liter of water
Kilogramo da sukero – Kilogram of sugar

Practice using these two prepositions, and they’ll be easy to remember in no time at all!

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  1. Leon:

    Hi, I’m still confused 😀 but because of something else I read (maybe you could help me out?).

    So I understand measurement uses “da”, but I was reading this…
    Search for “Difference between de and da”
    …which says, a glass would express a quantity. So, Glaso da akvo — A glass of water.

    Apparently, Glaso de vino, translates to a wineglass (“a glass for wine” perhaps?).

    Could you clear this up for me?

    Thanks 🙂

  2. kasxperanto:

    You are correct, a glass is a specific quantity of whatever liquid is in it. I have also heard the “glaso de vino” being used for wineglass.
    Yet another form of “of” is in describing what something is made of: “glaso el plastiko” would be used to describe a plastic glass (a drinking glass made of plastic).

  3. Samuel:

    I also have a query to clear up:
    I wanted to say “Lots of water”.
    Would it be:
    “Multe da akvo”?

    Thanks! XD

  4. Nathan:

    This is incorrect.. “Glaso de lakto – Glass of milk”!!!

    It should be Glaso da lakto = glass of milk, while “glaso de lakto” is a milk glass or perhaps a glass made out of milk if that were a thing that existed.

  5. Rude Jude:

    Oh, thank you. Duolingo didn’t explain this well enough for me, but you did. I hope you have a fantastic life now.

  6. ghjjk:

    Why, then is the phrase “a lot of” multe da? A lot is not a specific unit of measurement.

  7. Tomaso:

    I see that a few people have commented here with questions. Is everything clear. I’d like to take a fresh look at this question in a blog post in a few months, so I’d love to get your feedback about what is tricky about this — and to answer any remaining questions in the meanwhile.

    Update: see my take on this topic here: