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.

"Basic" prepositions

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 prepositionCommon English equivalentComments
àat, inà+le>au; à+les>aux
aprèsafter 
avantbefore 
avecwith 
chezat/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)
contreagainst 
dansin(side)&bnsp;
deof, fromde+le>du, de+les>des
depuissince, fromAlso translates English for when used to indicate a continuing action, e.g. I've been working for two days = je travaille depuis deux jours
derrièrebehind 
devantin front of, outside (the front of) 
eninUsed mainly with feminine countries and certain figurative expressions
entrebetween, among 
enverstowardsThe 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.
environabout, approximatelyUsed postpositionally about a third of the time, e.g. about 30 people can be either environ 30 personnes or 30 personnes environ.
parby, through 
pendantduringAlso used to mean "for" with a past duration of time.
pourfor 
sanswithout 
saufexcept 
selonaccording to, depending on 
sousunder(neath) 
suron 
verstowardsAlso used with dates to mean "in around...", "circa...". See also the preposition envers (above).
Table 1: "basic" prepositions in French.

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:

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This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.