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Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 5

Part 5 in this series.

en – in

Note that en is almost followed by a noun without an article. En is used to translate “in” before the year, the names of months, or the seasons of summer, autumn, and winter – but spring is au printemps.

  • “Le projet de loi fut voté en 2010.” | “The bill was passed in 2010.”
  • “Il faut visiter la Provence en automne, en octobre par exemple.” | “Provence should be visited in autumn, in October, for example.”

En is used to translate “in” or “to” in references to a feminine country (but use au for a masculine country).

  • “Vous allez en Espagne cet été ?” | “Are you going to Spain this summer?”
  • “Nous avons des succursales en Italie.” | “We have branches in Spain.”

En is used to translate “in” meaning the time needed to do something.

  • “Le garage pourra tout faire en deux heures.” | “The garage will be able to do everything in two hours.” (i.e.: will take two hours)

En is used to translate “as/like” after such verbs as:

  • se comporter en adulte | to behave like an adult
  • se déguiser en cowboy | to dress up as a cowboy
  • traiter quelqu’un en ami | to treat someone as a friend

En is used to translate “into” after verbs denoting “changing into”, “dividing into”.

  • “Ce bureau sera réaménagé en salle de conférence.” | “This office will be turned into a conference room.”
  • “Mon grand-père répartit ses terres en cinq lotissements.” | “My grandfather divided his land up into five plots.”

En can be used to translate the idea of “made of” or “in” for colors.

  • une bouteille en plastique | a plastic bottle
  • une chope en étain | a pewter mug
  • être habillé en noir et blanc | to be dressed in black and white

En is used to translate “by” in references to most mechanized forms of transport.

  • “Vous allez faire le voyage en avion ou en voiture ?” | “Are you going to travel by plane or by car?”

entre – between

“Le courrier arrive entre huit et neuf heures.” | “The mail/post arrives between eight and nine o’clock.”

“Nous habitons entre Bergerac et Castillon-la-Bataille.” | “We live between Bergerac and Castillon-la-Bataille.”

Entre is used to translate “between/from” with verbs of selecting or choosing.

  • “J’ai dû faire le choix entre les deux modèles.” | “I had to choose between the two models.”

Entre is used to translate “among”.

  • “Nous parlons souvent entre amis.” | “We often speak of it among friends.”

D’entre is used instead of entre to translate “of/among” before a disjunctive pronoun.

  • “Nous avons consulté plusieurs d’entre eux.” | “We consulted several of them.”

envers – towards

Envers is used to translate “towards” in the sense of attitudes or emotions towards people (not literal movement towards – that would be à and vers).

  • “Le juge se montra sévère envers les malfaiteurs.” | “The judge was harsh towards the offenders.”

So I’ve calculated that there should be about three more posts in this series. Thanks for your patience, I know this has been quite long!

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

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Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 4

Part 4 in this series.

depuis – from/since

“Je n’ai pas revisité Paris depuis 2010.” | “I haven’t been back to Paris since 2010.”

Depuis son enfance, il rêvait de devenir pilote.” | “From his childhood, he dreamed of becoming a pilot.”

Depuis is used to translate “for” with reference to an action which has/had been continuing for a certain period of time. French requires different tenses from English in this structure. The English form “I have been doing ___ for ___” is rendered by the present tense in French + depuis. The English form “I had been doing ___ for ___” is rendered by the imperfect tense in French + depuis.

  • “Nous travaillons avec cette compagnie depuis l’année dernière.” | “We have been working with that company since last year.”
  • “Le gouvernement menait des négociations avec ses partenaires depuis trois mois.” | “The government had been negotiating with its partners for three months.”

The structure “depuis ___ jusqu’à” translates “from ___ to” in reference to place or time.

  • “Il y aura des embouteillages depuis les Alpes jusqu’à la côte d’Azur.” | “There will be traffic jams from the Alps to Côte d’Azur.”
  • “Ils s’étaient absentés depuis le matin jusqu’au soir.” | “They had stayed away from morning to evening.”

derrière – behind

“Notre agence se trouve derrière l’Hôtel de Ville.” | “Our branch is located behind Town Hall.”


dès – from/from the time of

“Pour la braderie nous ouvrirons dès huit heures.” | “For the annual sales we shall be open from eight o’clock.”

Dès notre première rencontre nous nous sommes très bien.” | “From the time of our first meeting we got on very well.”

Dès can also be used to translate “from” + place name, when the implication is “from this place onwards”.

  • Dès la région nantaise la production viticole devient importante.” | “From the region of Nantes onwards, wine production becomes significant.”

devant – in front of

“J’ai garé ma voiture devant la tienne.” | “I’ve parked my car in front of yours.”


It looks like this series will end up being about 6 or 7 posts long. Please bear with me, this was bigger than I had initially anticipated, and I don’t want these posts to be too long. Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 3

Part 3 in this series.

de – from/of

“Ces oranges viennent d’Espagne.” | “These oranges come from Spain.”

Du jour au lendemain la situation politique s’est transformée.” | “From one day to the next, the political situation has been transformed.”

“Tu as vu la photo de notre équipe ?” | “Have you seen the photo of our team?”

“Paris est la capitale de la France.” | “Paris is the capital of France.”

De can express the way in which something is done, especially with the following nouns:

  • d’un seul coup | with a single blow
  • d’une façon surprenante | in a surprising way
  • d’une manière aimable | in a friendly way
  • d’un pas rapide | walking fast/at a fast pace
  • d’un ton irrité | in an irritated tone/voice
  • d’une voix douce | in a soft voice

De can be used to translate the English “with” to express the means or cause:

  • accablé de terreur | overcome with terror
  • chargé de fruits | loaded with fruit
  • plein d’espoir | full of hope

De expresses the substance something is made of, or what it contains:

  • un mur de briques | a brick wall
  • une boule de cristal | cristal/crystal ball
  • une assiette de charcuterie | a plate of cold cuts (cold meats)
  • une tasse de thé | a cup of tea

De is used to translate “more/less than” when plus or moins is followed by a number or quantity:

  • “Il y a plus de 500 délégués.” | “There are more than 500 delegates.”
  • “Ils nous reste moins d’un litre de lait.” | “We have less than a liter of milk left.”

De is used after adjectives expressing measurements:

  • un trou large de deux mètres | a hole two meters wide

De is used after the verb être when prices, numbers, and quantities are given:

  • “Le prix de la pension complète est de 1.000 Euros.” | “The full board costs 1,000 Euros.”
  • “Le nombre des manifestants était de 5.000.” | “The number of protesters was 5,000.” | “There were 5,000 protesters.”
  • “La consommation moyenne est de deux litre d’eau par jour.” | “On average, two liters of water are drunk a day.”

De is used after a superlative adjective to translate the English “in/of”:

  • “C’est le plus beau pays du monde.” | “It’s the most beautiful country in the world.”
  • “C’est le modèle le plus économique de toutes les petites voitures.” | “It’s the most economical of all the small cars.”

Stay tuned in for the next part in this series! Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 2

Part 2 in this series.

chez – at (the house of)/to (the house of)

Chez may be used before a noun or pronoun referring to a person or group of people.

  • “J’achèterai le sucre chez l’épicier.” | “I’ll buy the sugar at the grocer’s.”
  • “Ce soir nous sommes invités chez Anne et Thierry.” | “This evening we’re going to Anne and Thierry’s.”

Chez means “in the case of/with” when it refers to a person’s or group of people’s characteristics.

  • Chez Jean, l’énervement est un signe d’anxiété.” | “With Jean, being irritable is a sign of anxiety.”
  • “Il y a un certain optimisme chez les médecins.” | There is a mood of some optimism among/in the case of doctors.”

The use of chez meaning “in the case of” extends to geographical groups.

  • Chez nous on boit beaucoup de thé.” | In our country, we drink a lot of tea.

Chez is used to translate “in (the work of)” with reference to writings or artistic work.

  • Chez Sartre, la notion de la liberté est remise en question.” | “In Sartre’s work/writings, the concept of freedom is called into question.”

contre – against

“L’équipe hollandaise a remporté une victoire contre les Américains.” | “The Dutch team scored a win against the Americans.”

Contre is used to translate the English “with” in “to be angry with”.

  • “J’espère que vous n’êtes pas fâché contre moi ?” | “I hope you’re not angry with me?”

Contre is used to translate the English “for” in “to exchange one thing for another”.

  • “J’ai échangé ma moto contre un vélo de course.” | “I exchanged my motorcycle for a bicycle.”

Contre is used to translate the English “to” in records of scores, votes, etc.

  • “Le projet a été retenu, dix voix contre deux.” | “The proposal has been accepted by ten votes to two.”

dans – in/into

  • Dans le nord de l’Italie, on mange plus de riz.” | “In northern Italy, people eat more rice.”
  • “Je vais travailler dans le jardin.” | “I’m going to work in the garden.”
  • “Il est entré dans la boulangerie.” | “He’s gone into the bakery.”
  • Dans le cas des jeunes chômeurs, il faut une solution plus radicale.” | “In the case of young people who are unemployed, we need a more radical solution.”

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses

I will be going through the alphabet for this, so I’ll be breaking this up into about 4 or 5 posts.

Main Literal & Idiomatic Uses of Simple Prepositions Before Nouns

à – at/to

Je t’attendrai à l’arrêt de bus. | I’ll wait for you at the bus stop.

Tu veux venir à la réception ? | Do you want to come to the reception?

  • à denotes position in phrases.
    • à la campagne | in the country
    • à droite/à gauche | on the right/left
    • au deuxième étage | on the second floor
    • à l’extérieur/à l’intérieur | on the outside/inside
    • au lit – in bed
    • au mur/au plafond | on the wall/ceiling
  • à denotes position with reference to parts of the body.
    • avoir mal à tête | to have a headache
    • avoir mal à la jambe | to have leg pain
    • se blesser au pied | to hurt/injure one’s foot
    • “Ça te fait mal au genou ?” | “Does that hurt your knee?”
    • “Ce produit fait du bien aux yeux.” | “This product is good for your eyes.”
  • à introduces a distinguishing physical feature.
    • un immeuble à six étages | a six-story/storey building
    • un trèfle à quatre feuilles | a four-leaved clover
    • la maison à la grille rouge | the house with the red gate
    • l’homme aux cheveux noirs | the man with black hair
  • à indicates the purpose an object serves.
    • une boîte à lettres | a letterbox
    • une tasse à café | a coffee cup
  • à can be used either after a noun or in the structure être à quelqu’un to denote ownership.
    • “Voici les documents à Jean.” | “Here are Jean’s documents.”
    • “Le sac est à Philippe.” | “The bag is Philippe’s.”
    • “Il cherche une maison à lui.” | “He’s looking for a house of his own.”
  • à denotes the manner in which an action is preferred, especially with verbs of speech and movement.
    • crier à tue-tête | to shout at the top of one’s voice
    • lire à haute voix | to read out loud
    • marcher à grandes enjambées | to stride along
    • rentrer à pas de loup | to return on tiptoe/stealthily
    • s’habiller à la mode française | to dress in a French style
  • à denotes the means by which an action is performed, including references to non-mechanized forms of transport.
    • aller à pied | to walk
    • fait à la main | handmade
    • enforcer la porte à coups de pied | to kick the door down

après – after

“Il s’est installé à Paris après la guerre.” | “He moved to Paris after the war.”

“Je suis arrivé(e) après les autres.” | “I arrived after the others.”

  • après conveys the idea “next to/second to” in terms of a preference.
    • Après Lyon, je préférerais habiter Toulouse.” | “Next to/Second to Lyon, I’d rather live in Toulouse.”

avant – before (of time)

“Téléphone-moi si tu arrives avant neuf heures.”  | “Call me if you arrive before nine o’clock.”

“Il a occupé ce poste avant mon frère.” | “He held that position before my brother.

  • avant conveys the idea “more than” in terms of a preference.
    • “J’aime les randonnées en montagne avant tout.” | “I like mountain hikes more than anything.”

avec – with*

“Me mère viendra avec ma sœur.” | “My mother will come with my sister.”

“Il m’a regardé avec un certain mépris.” | “He looked at me with some scorn.”

Avec ce petit dictionnaire tu risques de ne pas comprendre le texte.” | “With using that little dictionary, you’re not likely to understand the text.”

*There are idiomatic uses of à and chez to translate some uses of “with” in English.


Enjoy your week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Colloquialisms

Continuing with colloquialisms this week.

  • il n’y a pas le feu ! – there’s no rush!
    • Vite, on est en retard ! | Hurry, we’re late!
    • Pourquoi se presser, il n’y a pas le feu ! | Why hurry up, there’s no rush!
  • bof – meh
    • Tu as envie de sortir ? | Do you want to go out?
    • Bof… | Meh…
  • être le chouchou – to be the favourite
    • Ce joueur est le chouchou du public. Les gens l’adorent !
    • This player is the fans favourite. The fans love him!
  • poser une colle – to ask a trick question
    • Ma série préférée ? Là tu me poses une colle, j’aime toutes les séries
    • My favourite series? There’s a trick question, I like every series!
  • capter – to get, to understand
    • Tu a compris sa théorie ? Moi je n’ai rien capté !
    • You understood his/her theory? I don’t understand anything!
  • rocambolesque – over-the-top, far-fetched
    • Ton histoire est vraiment rocambolesque. Je n’y crois pas du tout !
    • Your story is very far-fetched. I don’t believe it at all!
  • faire la tête – to sulk
    • Nos voisins font la tête car on ne les a pas invités à l’anniversaire de notre chat.
    • Our neighbours are sulking because we didn’t invite them to our cat’s birthday.
  • craquer pour quelqu’un – to find someone irresistible
    • Roméo a craqué pour Juliette.
    • Romeo found Juliette irresistible.
  • preux – brave
    • Un preux chevalier triompha de l’ennemi.
    • A brave knight triumphed over the enemy.
  • être fleur bleue – to be sentimental
    • Alice est fleur bleue. Elle aime les filmes romantiques.
    • Alice is sentimental. She loves romantic movies.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Idioms & Colloquialisms

It’s been a while since I’ve done an idioms or colloquialisms post!

  • nase – lame
    • “Ce film est nase, ne le regarde pas !”
    • “This movie is lame, don’t see it!”
  • être mimi – to be cute
    • “Ton chat est vraiment mimi !”
    • “Your cat is very cute!”
  • paumer – to lose
    • “J’ai encore paumé mes clés !”
    • “I lost my keys again!”
  • papoter – to chat, to gossip
    • “En été, j’aime papoter avec mes amis.”
    • “In the summer, I like to chat/gossip with my friends.”
  • chiant – annoying
    • “Mon portable s’éteint tout seul, c’est vraiment chiant !”
    • “My phone is going off by itself, it’s really annoying!”
  • pépère – cushy, comfortable
    • “Elle a trouvé un travail pépère, sans stress.”
    • “She found a comfortable job, without stress.”
  • se pieuter – to hit the sack (go to bed)
    • “Je suis trop crevé, je rentre chez moi et je vais me pieuter !”
    • “I’m dead tired, I’ll go home and hit the sack!”
  • un rencard – a date
    • “Michel a acheté des roses, il a un rencard ce soir avec Sandrine.”
    • “Michel bought roses, he has a date with Sandrine tonight.”
  • raconte des salades – to tell stories/lies
    • “Je ne te crois pas, tu  me racontes encore des salades !”
    • “I don’t believe you, you’re telling me lies!”
  • désormais – from now on
    • “Désormais, j’essayerai de t’aider avec les maths.”
    • “From now on, I’ll try to help you with maths.”
  • filer – to dash off
    • “Je dois filer, j’ai un rendez-vous dans 5 minutes !”
    • “I should dash off, I have a meeting in 5 minutes!”
  • soit…, soit… – either… or…
    • “Soit tu viens avec nous à la plage, soit tu restes ici regarder le match à la télé.”
    • “Either you come with us to the beach, or you stay here to watch the game on tv.”

Have a great week, everyone! Did anyone see the first practice set for the last two posts? If you haven’t, go check it out!

A la prochaine…

Courtney