4

There is another thread which gives the example

Je me demande combien d'entre eux vont passer les examens aujourd'hui ?

I wanted to add my question as a comment on to one of the answers but I wasn't allowed to because of not enough reputation.

What I was wondering is whether it is also possible to say only "Combien d'eux" rather than "Combien d'entre eux" or is this totally incorrect?
I ask because when I saw the title of the other question, the phrase that immediately sprung to mind was "combien d'eux" - But my French is very rusty and wasn't that good in the first place.

Thanks for any help in bringing my French back to life again!

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No, combien d'eux cannot be used in place of combien d'entre-eux, just like combien de nous cannot be used for combien d'entre nous.

At best combien d'eux might translate "how many from them" like for example in Tu en veux combien de moi et combien d'eux, i.e. "how much of it do you want from me and how much from them" but outside such a context, that form would likely be avoided because it is homophone with combien d'œufs, "how many eggs"...

  • I would pronounce the "f" in "combien d'oeufs"... It may be a mistake, but makes it clear you talk about eggs... :D – Random Jul 31 '16 at 21:58
  • @Random It would definitely be a mispronunciation and anyway wouldn't solve the issue which is not having "eggs" being understood but "them". – jlliagre Jul 31 '16 at 22:23
  • @jlliagre I agree with Random. I must admit I sometimes pronounce /œf/ when plural. Language evolves... – Laure Aug 1 '16 at 5:42
  • @Laure Pourquoi pas, mais cette prononciation reste néanmoins très minoritaire (elle n'est d'ailleurs pas mentionnée ici: french.stackexchange.com/q/1555/1109 ) et elle ne change rien au fait qu'il n'existe pas de prononciation alternative à « combien d'eux » qui permettrait de différencier cette forme de « combien d'œufs ». – jlliagre Aug 1 '16 at 7:46
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    @Onaeu. Oui, « combien » ne limite pas les réponses possibles à zéro ou un. Il peut donc être considéré comme un quantificateur désignant une pluralité. – jlliagre Aug 1 '16 at 23:41

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