I'd say:

Die drei Ingredienzien müssen im Verhältnis von 4:1:3 vermischt werden.

... to express the idea of:

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 German to have numbers precede the word "Verhältnis" in a similar way to "in a 4:1:3 ratio"?

The equivalent expressions in French, 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 German?

  • The word "Verhältnis" just expresses well what you want to say. The more natural expression is to use it before the numbers. – πάντα ῥεῖ May 12 '18 at 16:03
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    @BjörnFriedrich Strictly speaking, yes. But don't we just use the noun "ratio" anyway, if nothing else, for lack of a better term for comparing three quantities? By the way, I'm afraid I don't quite follow what you mean by your 2nd sentence. The idea I want to convey here is: "A:B:C = 4:1:3", in other words, "A and C are four and three times as much as B respectively". – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 12 '18 at 17:58
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    @BjörnFriedrich There is a difference in usage in a mathematical or chemical context. In chemistry it is valid to use 4/1/3 to express a mixture of three solvents. – Arsak May 13 '18 at 9:23
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    @BjörnFriedrich 4:1:3 is not 4:3. You are confusing it with mathematical division. This is not the correct context. – Gerhardh May 13 '18 at 10:19
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    @BjörnFriedrich: "because division is not an associative operation" - I don't think it is useful to interpret a ratio like "4:1:3" as an arithmetical expression made up of divisions. The common interpretation seems to be closer to a linear equation: "Mix a ratio of grapefruit to orange juice to lemon juice to lemonade (...) 2:4:1:3" to create Tangerine Dream. is equivalent to "2 units of grapefruit + 4 units of orange juice + 1 unit of lemon juice + 3 units of lemonade = 1 (something of) Tangerine Dream". – O. R. Mapper May 13 '18 at 18:04

Both variants are possible:

Die drei Ingredienzien müssen im Verhältnis (von) vier zu eins zu drei vermischt werden.

Die drei Ingredienzien müssen im Vier-zu-eins-zu-drei-Verhältnis vermischt werden.

Please note the Durchkoppelung with hyphens in the second case, because the phrase becomes a compound word in that case.

  • No Capitalization of the "v" in "vier-zu-....." ? – Beta May 12 '18 at 17:55
  • Hi. Does this hyphenated compound-ish phrasing sound just as idiomatic? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 12 '18 at 18:01
  • @Beta: You are right, it has to be capitalized. I think this is one of the cases where capitalization stops to look right, because zu should not be capitialized in any case, eins and drei could, and Verhältnis must. It just looks ugly. – Janka May 12 '18 at 18:07
  • Compound nouns are always idiomatic in German. – Janka May 12 '18 at 18:09

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