French Prepositions

Do you know how to choose the right French Prepositions?

  1. Prepositions with geographical names
  2. Prepositions with modes of transportation
  3. Prepositions to indicate location or direction

French Prepositions with Geographical Names

French prepositions

  • Do you see this picture here?
  • Have you noticed the different French prepositions?
  • Do you know when and how to use them?

I’ve made this picture for my students years ago. In a minute you’ll understand why this graph is so handy!

By the way, how do you know if a country is marsculine or feminine?

► All names of countries ending in a mute -e are feminine*
*Exceptions: le Mexique, le Cambodge, le Mozambique

Let me explain the graph now:

  1. The prepositions àau and aux indicate a location or direction (in, at or to some place).
  2. The prepositions dedu and des indicate a place of origin (from).
  • The preposition à is used before the names of cities.
    Je vais à Paris. = I am going to Paris.
  • The preposition en is used with names of feminine countries.
    Je vais en France. = I am going to France.
  • The preposition au is used with masculine countries.
    Je vais au Canada. = I am going to Canada.
  • The preposition de is used before the names of cities and feminine countries.
    Je viens de France, de Paris. = I come from France, fom Paris.
  • The preposition du is used with masculine countries.
    Je viens du Canada. = I come from Canada.
  • The prepositions aux and des are used with plural countries.
    Je vais aux États-Unis. = I am going to the United States.
    Je viens des États-Unis. = I come from the United States.

Prepositions with modes of transportation

To describe by what means someone is travelling, use en:
en bus, en avion, en voiture, en bateau, en métro, en taxi, en tramway, en moto

But if you use your own legs or your horse’s legs, use à:
à pied, à cheval

You may see the use of the preposition par such as par le train.
Forget it! Don’t make prepositions more confusing as most of the time French people say en train!

Prepositions to indicate location or direction

  • The preposition dans indicates a place more precisely than à and often means à l’intérieur de (inside):
    Dans la chambre = in the bedroom
  • The preposition chez is used with a person, a person’s name, a pronoun, a person’s profession or business, a group or society:
    Chez Pierre, chez Yves Saint Laurent, chez moi, chez le dentiste, chez Peugeot…

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