I just said in conversation:

Mélangez les trois ingrédients dans la proportion de 4, 1 et 3 respectivement.

In English, the same idea can be expressed as:

Mix them in the ratio of 4:1:3. --- {numbers following the word "ratio"}

{or}: Mix them in a 4:1:3 ratio. --- {numbers preceding the word "ratio"}

Question: Is it possible in French to have numbers precede the word "proportion" in a similar way to "in a 4:1:3 ratio"?

The equivalent expressions in German, Italian, Spanish, Russian etc all take the form of "a noun corresponding to ratio + numbers", just like "in the ratio of 4:1:3". Can it go either way in French?

2 Answers 2


Dans le contexte de la cuisine, je dirais plutôt :

Mélanger quatre mesures de X et trois mesures de Y par mesure de Z


Mélanger quatre mesures de X et une mesure de Z pour trois mesures de Y.

Dans un cas plus général, si on parle d'un rapport de deux quantités, par exemple "4:1", on peut dire :

Mélanger ces ingrédients dans un rapport quatre à un.

Pour trois quantités je tenterais la formulation "dans un rapport quatre / un / trois" mais pas sûr que ce serait aussi bien compris.


The two strategies in English are [noun + of + property] or [compound-adjective + noun].

As you observed, the former is equivalent to French's natural way to say it: [noun + de + property].

If French were to go the other route and make a compound adjective of the property, it would still follow the noun as French adjectives do:

Dans une proportion "4:1:3".

So no, it would be unnatural to place the numbers before the noun in this head-first language.

  • In English, you get the feeling that you can get away with virtually anything for compound adjectives. :D While the two versions work equally well in English (my preference being the latter), the question still remains if the compound-ish phrasing "dans une proportion "4:1:3"" in French sounds just as idiomatic as "dans la proportion de 4, 1 et 3". May 12, 2018 at 17:23
  • By the way, do you find it odd to use the noun "ratio" to compare three quantities to begin with? I wonder if it seems a bit iffy, just as "rapport" does in French, as qoba mentioned. May 12, 2018 at 18:38
  • @Alone-zee "ratio" is very natural in this context in English. I would venture to say that "proportion '4:1:3'" is acceptable but probably not the most natural.
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 13, 2018 at 2:22

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