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Definition: In French, prepositions are words which link two related parts of a sentence. They are
placed in front of nouns in order to indicate a relationship between that noun and the verb, adjective,
or noun that precedes it.
Examples in French:
I'm talking to Jean.
Je parle Jean.
He is from Paris.
Il est de Paris.
The book is for you. Le livre est pour toi.
Common French Prepositions:
1. French Prepositions () - (to, at, in)
2. French Prepositions (aprs & derrire) - (after)
3. French Prepositions (avant & devant) - (before)
4. French Prepositions (avec) - (with)
5. French Prepositions (chez) - (among)
6. French Prepositions (dans) - (in)
7. French Prepositions (de) - (from, of, about)
8. French Prepositions (depuis) - (since, for)
9. French Prepositions (en) - (in, on, to)
10. French Prepositions (pour) - (for)
11. French Prepositions (sans) - (without)
12. French Prepositions (sur) - (on)
13. French Prepositions (vers & envers) - (toward)
1. Definition: is a very important preposition, despite its tiny size. Its many different meanings and
uses in French include all of the following.
1. Location or destination
J'habite Paris I live in Paris
Je vais Rome I'm going to Rome
Je suis la banque I'm at the bank
2.

Distance in time or space


J'habite 10 mtres de lui
I live 10 meters from him
Il est 5 minutes de moi
He is 5 minutes from me

3.

Point in time
Nous arrivons 7h00 We arrive at 7:00
Il est mort 100 ans He died at the age of 100

4.

Manner, style, or characteristic


Il habite la franaise
He lives in the French style
un enfant aux yeux bleus
blue-eyed child / child with blue eyes
fait la main
made by hand
aller pied
to go on / by foot

5.

Possession
un ami moi a friend of mine
Ce livre est Jean This is Jean's book

6.

Measurement

acheter au kilo to buy by the kilogram


payer la semaine to pay by the week
7.

Purpose or use
une tasse th teacup / cup for tea
un sac dos backpack / pack for the back

8.

In the passive infinitive


louer for rent
Je n'ai rien lire I have nothing to read

2.

Definition: There is often confusion between the prepositions aprs and derrire and their opposites
avant and devant.
Aprs and derrire are used in the following circumstances:
1.

Aprs expresses something to do with time and means after. It can be used in front of a
temporal expression, noun, pronoun, verb, or clause.
aprs 3h00
after 3:00
aprs le cours
after the class
aprs avoir mang
after eating
aprs qu'il le fera
after he does it

2.

Derrire expresses position or location (figurative or literal) and means behind. It can be
used only in front of a noun or pronoun.
derrire la maison
behind the house
chercher derrire les apparences
look behind (beyond) appearances

3.

Definition: Because they can both mean before, there is often confusion between the prepositions
avant and devant. But there's a big difference in the way they are used.
1.

Avant expresses something to do with time.


It can be used in front of a temporal expression, noun, pronoun, verb, or clause.
avant
avant
avant
avant

2.

midi before noon


l'examen before the test
de partir before leaving
que nous ne partions before we leave

Devant expresses position or location (figurative or literal) and means before or in front of.
It can be used only in front of a noun or pronoun.
devant la voiture in front of the car
devant les juges before the judges
devant le danger faced with / in the face of danger.
Il est devant toi. He's in front of you.

4.

Definition: Avec is the French equivalent of with. It can express


1. Accompaniment
J'irai avec toi. I'll go with you
Il est d'accord avec nous. He agrees with us
2.

Cause
On oublie tout avec le temps
One forgets everything in time
Tu m'nerves avec ce bruit
You're bothering me with this noise

3.

Something in addition: avec a


et avec a ?
anything else?
j'ai froid et avec a j'ai faim
I'm cold, and besides that I'm hungry

4.

The equivalent of an adverb: avec + noun


avec joie joyfully
avec colre angrily

Examples in French:
se fcher avec qqun
to get mad at someone
se lever avec le jour
to get up at the crack of dawn
se mettre en rapport avec
to get in touch with
prendre des gants avec qqun
to handle someone with kid gloves

5.
Definition: Chez is a great French word, English haven't a equivalent word. It can mean any of the
following:
1. at/to the house of
chez mon oncle at/to my uncle's house
chez moi at/to my house, (at) home
2. at/to the office/store of
chez le mdecin at/to the doctor's office
chez le boucher at/to the butcher's
3.

among
(une coutume) chez les Franais
(a custom) among the French

4. in the work/writings of
chez Molire
in Molire's work/writing

5. for/with
chez lui, c'est une habitude
it's a habit with him
c'est bizarre chez un enfant
it's strange for a child

6. Definition: The French preposition dans must be followed by an article or some other determiner, it
cannot be followed directly by a noun. It usually means in, but can indicate all of the following:
1. Physical location
dans la bote in the box
dans la rue in the street
boire dans une tasse to drink from a cup
prendre qqchose dans une bote to take s.t. from a box
copier qqchose dans un livre to copy s.t. from a book
dans l'avion on the plane
mettre qqchose dans le tiroir put s.t. in the drawer
monter dans le train to get on the train
voir qqun dans l'escalier to see someone on the stairs
2.

Figurative location
dans la situation actuelle in the current situation
dans ces conditions in/under these conditions

3.

Time (en vs dans)


dans la semaine during the week
dans la journe during the day
dans une semaine in one week

Examples in French:
dans les coulisses behind the scenes
dans le doute when in doubt
tre dans le ptrin to be in a jam
dans mes projets in my plans
dans le sens de la longueur lengthwise

7.
Definition: De is a very important and versatile preposition with many different meanings and uses in
French. As a preposition, it can express or indicate all of the following:
1. Possession or belonging
le livre de Carlos Carlos's book
la bibliothque de l'universit the university library
2.

Starting point or origin


partir de Nice to leave from (out of) Nice
Je suis de Bruxelles I'm from Brussels

3.

Contents / description of something


une tasse de th cup of tea
un roman d'amour love story (story of/about love)

4.

Defining feature
le march de gros wholesale market
une salle de classe classroom

5.

Cause
mourir de faim to die of / from hunger
fatigu du voyage tired from the trip

6.

Means / manner of doing something


crire de la main gauche
to write with one's left hand
rpter de mmoire
to recite from memory

8. Definition: To express the duration of an event in French, depuis and pendant are used. Many
English speakers tend to translate for as pour, but this is rarely correct when talking about time.

Depuis means since or for. It is used with a verb in the present tense to talk about an action that
began in the past and continues in the present.
Depuis quand tudiez-vous le franais?
How long have you studied French?
J'tudie le franais depuis 6 ans.
I've studied French for 6 years.
J'tudie le franais depuis 2000.
I've studied French since 2000.
Depuis can also be used to indicate an action that was occuring (in the imparfait) when it was
interrupted by another action (in the pass compos).
Depuis quand dormais-tu quand je suis arriv ?
How long had you been sleeping when I arrived?
Pendant means for, but it refers to an action in its entirety that has no relation to the present.
It can be used for both the past and the future.
Pendant combien de temps avez-vous tudi le franais ?
How long did you study French?
J'ai tudi le franais pendant 3 ans.
I studied French for 3 years.
Je vais habiter en France pendant 2 mois.
I'm going to live in France for 2 months.
Pendant also means during.
J'ai vu un film pendant mon sjour.
I saw a film during my stay.
Pendant ce temps, il m'attendait.
During this time, he waited for me.
9. Definition: En is nearly always used directly in front of a noun, with no article. It can indicate all of
the following:
1.

Location
il est en prison
j'habite en banlieu

2.

he is in jail
I live in the suburbs

Time
en aot
en 3 jours
en semaine

in August
in three days
during the week

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Like or as
Je te parle en
I'm speaking to you as a
ami
friend
Il agit en enfant He's acting like a kid
Means
voyager en train
to travel by train
rentrer en taxi
to return by taxi
Condition or appearance
tre en bonne sant
to be in good health
tre en guerre
to be at war
tre en pyjama
to be in pajamas
Transformation
traduire en franais
to translate into French
se dguiser en ....
to disguise oneself as....
transformer une salle
to change a room into an office
en bureau
Material
un pull en laine
une maison en bois

wool sweater
wooden house

Definition: Pour can be followed by a noun, pronoun, or infinitive. When it is followed by a noun or
pronoun, it usually means for. It can indicate all of the following:
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Purpose/Intention
J'ai achet un cadeau pour toi. I bought you a gift.
Il l'a fait pour moi.
He did it for me.
Duration of future event
Je vais y habiter pour un an. I'm going to live there for a year.
Il parlera pour une heure.
He will speak for an hour.
In favor of
Il est pour la peine de la mort. He is in favor of the death penalty.
J'ai vot pour Chirac.
I voted for Chirac.
Direction
Il est parti pour Ottawa.
He left for Ottawa.
Voici le train pour Rouen.
Here's the train to Rouen.
Point of view
Pour nous, c'est une bonne ide.
For us, it's a good idea.
Il est tout pour moi.
He is everything to me.
Cause
Je suis condamn pour vol.
I was convicted of theft.
Ce magasin est ferm pour rparations. This store is closed for repairs.
In place of / In exchange for
J'ai pay pour nous.
I paid for us.
Il doit signer pour moi.
He has to sign for me.
Comparison/Relationship
Un pour cent
Il fait chaud pour l'automne.

One per hundred


It's hot for the fall.

Definition: Sans is the French equivalent of without. It can express Lack


Il est parti sans moi.
He left without me.
Sans argent, c'est difficile.
It's hard without money.
Elle est venue sans tre invite. She came uninvited.
Condition

Sans mes amis, je serais triste.


If it weren't for my friends, I'd be sad.
The equivalent of an adverb: sans + noun
un homme sans abri
a homeless man
une femme sans prjugs
an unbiased woman
Definition:
Sur usually means on:
un livre sur la table
sur ma route
Sur can also indicate:

a book on the table


on my way

Direction
tourner sur la gauche
to turn to the left
revenir sur Paris
to return to Paris
Position
sur le stade, le march
at the stadium, market
sur la chausse, le boulevard, l'avenue
in the road, boulevard, avenue
il neige sur tout le Canada
it's snowing all over Canada
Approximate time
arriver sur les six heures
to arrive around 3 o'clock
elle va sur ses 60 ans
she's going on 60
sur une priode d'un an
over a period / the course of a year
Proportion / ratio
trois fois sur quatre
three times out of four
un enfant sur cinq
one child in five
une semaine sur deux
every other week
Subject / topic
un article sur les roses
an article on roses
une causerie sur l'galit a talk on / about equality
Definition: Vers and envers both mean toward, but in difference circumstances.
Vers means toward or around in time and space
Nous allons vers Rouen.
We're going toward Rouen.
Tournez vers la droite.
Turn to(ward) the right.
J'tais vers Provence.
I was around (near) Provence.
Nous allons vers midi.
We're going around noon.
I'm going around the end of the
J'y vais vers la fin de la journe.
day.
Envers means toward in a figurative sense
Il est cruel envers ses chiens.
He is cruel toward his dogs.
Son attitude envers les enfants...
His attitude toward children...
Ses penses envers l'argent...
His thoughts on money...