List of French prepositions

On the previous page, we gave a list of what we might see as the main prepositions in French (accepting that the choice of which ones belong to the "main" list is a little arbitrary). Now we look at two categories of prepositions that are a little less common that that "main" list. You're more likely to come across them in formal writing than in everyday speech, for example. On the other hand, they're not literary or archaic.

Prepositions outside our "main" list but which are still in "normal" use

The prepositions in the Table 2 might not be considered "basic" prepositions, but are still readily used in writing under the right circumstances. One or two of them are a little formal, but none are old-fashioned or archaic.

French prepositionCommon English equivalentComments
d'aprèsaccording to 
auprès debeside; in contact/communication with 
dèsever since, from ... onwards 
jusqu'àas far as, up untilThe basic form jusque is also combined with a few other prepositions, e.g. jusqu'en 2001 = up until 2001 and one or two other words, such as jusqu'ici = this far, so far.
moyennantin exchange forUsed especially in contracts when indicating a price or means of payment, e.g. moyennant le prix de... = for the price of...
versusversusNot nearly as common as in English, but occasionally used in French. Larousse give a date of first attestation as late as 1985 (whereas it has been used in English for several centuries).
viaviaLess common than English, but this Latinate preposition also exists in French (first date of attestation 1876 according to Larousse).
Table 2: Some French prepositions that are slightly less common, but still readily used in everyday writing.

Participles used as prepositons

You may have noted that various participles (words ending in -ing and -en) in English can essentially function as though to all intents and purposes they were prepositions: regarding his position, following his complaint etc. A similar phenomenon exists in French. Table 3 below gives some common examples of French participles (present participles ending in -ant or occasionally past participles) that are effectively used as prepositions.

French prepositionCommon English equivalentComments
concernantconcerning, regarding 
durantduringUnlike English during, can also be used with a time period, e.g. durant trois heures = for three hours. Durant can also be used postpositionally in slightly literary use: sa vie durant = during his life.
exceptéexcept, excepting 
excluantexcludingLike incluant, perhaps an anglicism; sauf and hor(mi)s are perhaps more natural French.
incluantincludingSomething of an anglicism that is occasionally found; y compris is probably more natural French.
passépast, beyond 
suivantaccording to, depending on, pursuant to 
vugiven, considering 
Table 3: French participles commonly used as prepositions.

Note that these words are used as "genuine" prepositions in the sense that as such, they are invariable in form. So for example, during his life would be sa vie durant, not sa vie durante.

Next: compound prepositions and other rare/archaic prepositions

On the next pages, we look at:

  • some common compound prepositions, such as à côté de etc;
  • various rarer French prepositions which are either archaic and to be found either in older or highly literary texts, or which belong to other specialised uses such as scientific texts.
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This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.