Ten – Des or Dayz?

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The Portuguese word for “ten” is “dez,” but how exactly is that pronounced? I went to the gas station to fill up my motorcycle with “dez reais de gasolina” (ten reals of gasoline). But when I spoke to the pump attendant, I had to repeat myself a few times. Then finally he exclaimed, “ah, dez reais.”

The word “dez” (ten) is pronounced “des.” Imagine you were going to pronounce the word “desk” and then leave up the “k”: dez. Say “des.”

But at some point, I thought that the pronunciation of “dez” was “dayz” and not “des.” Why was this? To understand why I made this error, let’s look at all the numbers in Portuguese from 1 to 20.

One = um/uma

Two = dois/duas

Three = tres

Four = quatro

Five = cinco

Six = Seis

Seven = sete

Eight = oito

Nine = nove

Ten = dez

Eleven = onze

Twelve = Doze

Thirteen = treze

Fourteen = Quatorze

Fifteen = Quinze

Sixteen = Dezesseis

Seventeen = Dezessete

Eighteen = Dezeoito

Nineteen = Dezenove

Twenty = Vinte

As you can see above, starting from sixteen, all the numbers are a combination of ten and a unit. Example, sixteen is dezesseis which means dez (ten) e (and) seis (six). In other word dezesseis means “ten and six.” And of course we know that ten and six or ten plus six is equal to sixteen.

Here is the catch. The word dez by itself is pronounced “des,” but when combined with other numbers to make “teenage” numbers, it is pronounced dayz.

Ten = dez (des)

sixteen = desesseis (dayz-eh-says)

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