I want to translate the following sentence: "The carry is a term from mathematics and stands for the number sign in a special step in arithmetic operations with numbers that are represented by a place value system."

GoogleTranslate gives me: "Le report est un terme des mathématiques et représente le signe dièse dans une étape spéciale dans les opérations arithmétiques avec des nombres qui sont représentés par un système de valeur de position."

In a Wikipedia-page it looks like this word carry should be translated as retenue.

Is both correct? Is one preferrable?

1 Answer 1


The traditionnal term is "retenue", the verb is "retenir". You are being taught in early schooling to use that term when you carry out an operation. The other term is "poser". Of course, the terms do not have to be used when you carry out an operation, but if you have to say explicitly what you are doing they are the terms to use.

Example for subtraction

32 -29: douze moins neuf égale trois ; je pose trois et je retiens un ; deux plus (la retenue,) un, égale trois ; trois moins trois égale zéro.

The term "report" is used in the definition of "retenue".

(Wikipédia) Dans le contexte de la numération de position, la retenue  est un report de valeur résultant d'un débordement de dizaine lors d'une sous-opération sur deux chiffres.

  • Can I then say "retenue précédent" for the carry coming from previous, and "nouveau retenue" for the carry for the next step? Or are there better translations?
    – UweD
    Dec 8, 2022 at 11:16
  • 1
    @UweD You can, although it would be "retenue précédente"; however, there is no need to since as soon as you have used a carry it is no longer needed. I am not aware of any other term that would be used synonymously.
    – LPH
    Dec 8, 2022 at 11:23
  • I see. Thank you very much!
    – UweD
    Dec 8, 2022 at 12:10

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