Hello Duolingo-folk, 9+ years after I wrote this! Let me know if you need further clarification in the comments below.
All about Da! “Da” is mostly translated as “of”, but it has a very specific use all to itself. Keep an eye out and you may just find a future post about “de“, which is another word often translated as “of”.
Basically, “da” is used to relate some quantity to some type of thing. In a phrase:
- X da Y = X of Y
X is some quantity and Y is a type of thing. The phrase shows that you have X amount of Y. X must be a quantity and Y must be an indefinite type.
So X is easy, it could be a bunch, a little, a dozen, a litre, a box, a lot, a flask, you get the idea!
What’s Y though? What’s indefinite? The answer is, Y must only be a type of thing, a concept of a thing, it can’t be a particular group of things. So in the title “a clutch of eggs”, Y is eggs. Eggs is indefinite. “Eggs” does not refer to any particular eggs at all. It’s just talking about the concept of eggs. Then with “da” we take some portion of this type of thing, eggs.
- skatolo da ovoj = a box of eggs
If we’re talking about certain eggs, and not just the general idea of eggs for Y, then “da” cannot be used!
- Mi ŝtelis skatolon el viaj ovoj = I stole a box of your eggs
Here Y is “your eggs”, those are particular eggs, not just the concept of eggs. Therefore, “da” cannot be used!
Numbers are quantities, but they are allowed to directly refer to nouns, so you don’t need a “da“:
- Mi havas du ovojn = I have two eggs
- Mi havas skatolon da ovoj = I have a box of eggs
The exception is when you’ve got a number that in noun form (ending in “o”), then it acts like a grouping:
- Mi havas milionon da ovoj = I have a million (of) eggs.
This is because a noun cannot describe another noun I believe!
If X is an adjective (a-word), it is allowed to directly describe the noun (Y), so you do not use “da”:
- Mi havas multajn ovojn = Mi havas multe/multon da ovoj = I have a lot of eggs
Why is it possible to say “glaso da vino” and “glaso de vino” ?
Because they mean different things!
Following from a couple examples from the PMEG:
“Glaso de vino” is more like “wine glass” – a glass in which wine was present, or is usually present. And “glaso da vino” uses “glaso” as a quantity, it’s a glass-sized amount of wine, or a glass full of wine, a “glass of wine”.
In such cases, “da” and “de” answer different questions:
- How many soldiers are there? – Grupo da soldatoj (A group of soldiers)
- What kind of group is that? – Grupo de soldatoj (A group of soldiers)