Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 7

Part 7 in this series.

par – by/through

“L’enfant a été retrouvé par la police.” | “The child was found by the police.”

“Le budget sera voté par le Conseil Municipal.” | “The budget will be approved by the Town Council.”

“Pour venir chez toi, est-ce qu’il faut passer par Paris ?” | “Do we have to go through Paris to get to you?”

Par is used to translate “out of” before an abstract noun.

  • “Il a joué le rôle du grand mécène par vanité.” | “He played the part of the big patron out of vanity.”
  • Par pitié, il leur a payé le prix du voyage.” | “Out of pity, he paid for their trip.”

Pars used to translate the English “a” when expressing the frequency of something.

  • “Je travaille trois jours par semaine.” | “I work three days a week.”
  • “Il y a une réunion officielle deux fois par an.” | “There is an official meeting twice a year.”

Among the most common idiomatic uses of par are:

  • par conséquent | as a result
  • par contre | but on the other hand
  • par écrit | in writing
  • par exemple | for example
  • par la fenêtre | out of the window
  • par hasard | by chance
  • par ici | this way
  • par intervalles | at arrivals/intermittently
  • par terre | on the ground

parmi – among

“Le château était caché parmi les arbres.” | “The castle was hidden among the trees.”

Parmi can be used to translate “of” when you are speaking of “some of a group”.

  • Parmi mes amis, la plupart s’intéressent à l’art contemporain.” | “The majority of my friends are interested in modern art.”

Parmi can be used + plural disjunctive pronoun to translate “of us/you/them”.

  • “Il y en avait beaucoup parmi eux qui avaient travaillé aux Etats-Unis.” | “There were many of them who had worked in the United States.”

pendant – during

Pendant les vacances nous avons repeint la maison.” | “During the holidays we decorated the house.”

Pendant is used to translate “for”, especially with reference to duration of past time.

  • “Il était hospitalisé pendant quinze jours.” | “He was kept in the hospital for fifteen days.”

pour – for

“Il y a une lettre pour vous.” | “There’s a letter for you.”

“Les frites sont pour l’apéritif ce soir.” | “The fries are for the drinks party tonight.”

Pour can mean “for the sake of”.

  • “Il y a tout sacrifié pour ses principes politiques.” | “He sacrificed everything for his political principles.”

Pour can mean “in favour of”.

  • “Vous êtes pour l’union monétaire ?” | “Are you in favour of monetary union?”

Pour can be used to translate “as” in the sense “to use as”.

  • Pour toute lumière il ne nous restait que deux bougies.” | “We had only two candles left as our sole source of light.”

In expressions of time, pour can normally only be used to translate “for” with reference to the future.

  • “Je vais prendre un appartement à Rome pour trois mois.” | “I’m going to rent an apartment/flat in Rome for three months.”

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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