List of French prepositions
On the previous page, we introduced the definition of preposition.
Essentially, they are a small set of special "connecting" words that express the relationship between
one noun and another. On this and subsequent pages, I give what is hopefully a reasonably
comprehensive list of prepositions in French.
If you're a relative beginner, then I recommend that you start by learning the following
prepositions with the usual English equivalents shown. As in English, the actual choice of
a preposition can be highly idiomatic. For example, when people say have a beer on me
or I'm waiting on a Big Mac and fries,
the preposition on doesn't have its basic meaning of "on top of"— it's essentially the
preposition that speakers have got used to using in these cases for no especially good reason.
So you can imagine that in other languages, the choice of the equivalent of on in
these cases would also vary somewhat.
What we give here, then, are essentially the equivalents of the preposition when it
has what we might see as its "basic" meaning.
|French preposition||Common English equivalent||Comments|
|à||at, in||à+le>au; à+les>aux|
|chez||at/to ...'s house/place; on/from the premises of, from/at ...'s (with a company name)||For example: chez moi = at my place; je passe chez toi = I'll come round to your place; je l'ai acheté chez Darty = I bought it at Darty('s)|
|de||of, from||de+le>du, de+les>des|
|depuis||since, from||Also translates English for when used to indicate a continuing action, e.g. I've been working for two days = je travaille depuis deux jours|
|devant||in front of, outside (the front of)|| |
|en||in||Used mainly with feminine countries and certain figurative expressions|
|entre||between, among|| |
|envers||towards||The preposition envers means "towards" as in "I was kind towards him"; when talking about physical motion towards something, or progress
towards a solution, vers is used.|
|environ||about, approximately||Used postpositionally about a third of the time, e.g. about 30 people can be either environ 30 personnes or 30 personnes environ.|
|par||by, through|| |
|pendant||during||Also used to mean "for" with a past duration of time.|
|selon||according to, depending on|| |
Table 1: "basic" prepositions in French.
|vers||towards||Also used with dates to mean "in around...", "circa...". See also the preposition envers (above).|
Other French prepositions
As you might have gathered, that's not the full story. Beyond the prepositions above,
French has a number of others, at least some of which you will probably need to get to
grips with sooner or later:
This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.