# Hyperbolic "trois tonnes de choses": Why use number 3?

Elle a été admise mais il lui faut désormais « remplir trois tonnes de formulaires pour que cette admission soit acceptée par la NCAA », indique-t-elle.

I usually say "des tonnes" instead, as in "j'ai encore des tonnes de trucs à apprendre !". I wonder how "trois tonnes" compares in terms of over-the-top emphasis.

• I've heared "une tonne" / "deux tonnes" / "trois tonnes" / "dix tonnes" in the same context. In each case, the number is a short syllable. I think the choice is arbitrary and "trois" sounds good because it start with a 't', like "tonne". Nov 18, 2017 at 20:51
• I think the TR as a more aggressive sound and therefore helps to express anger. Nov 20, 2017 at 16:36

## 3 Answers

My impression is that putting a specific number puts more emphasis, because it's like we're not saying it lightly (as if we actually weighted the things we have to do--metaphorically speaking of course) whereas "des tonnes" is more vague and perhaps less convincing.

I would guess French people love the 'R' sound, that is so difficult to pronounce for strangers, because we can accentuate it as much as we want.

'TR' is even more aggressive, it shows how what comes next is important. Add this to "Trois tonnes" ; you gotta admit that the double T sounds great, doesn't it ? Maybe it reminds us of 'T'N'T' !

Another example would be :

J'ai trente six mille choses à faire !

We like to use this as well.

• Truite must be very aggressive then ;-) Interesting theory anyway. Nov 30, 2017 at 13:17
• @jlliagre: la truite n'est pas méchante, mais traiter qq de truie, de trumeau ou de tréteau est particulièrement injurieux. Nov 30, 2017 at 22:07

Ah I think there nothing to see here, it just means 'a lot'. Dix tonnes, trente tonnes, dix milliards de trucs, vingt mille trucs, trop de trucs, trop pas de trucs (ironic). All the same to me. Emphasis is for a humoristic tone (tone, tonne, what a pun!)