Tag Archive | French Prepositions

Simple Prepositions Before Nouns

Simple prepositions consist of a single word (à, dans, par, etc.), as opposed to compound prepositions, which consist of preposition + noun + preposition (à côté de, en dehors de, etc.).

Prepositions Governing Two or More Nouns

When one preposition governs (stands before) two or more nouns, it should be repeated before each noun in the case of the prepositions à, de, en. Note that this rule is observed in formal written French, but not always in informal speech.

  • J’ai montré les photos à ma mère et à ma sœur.
  • I showed the photos to my mother and sister.

In the case of other prepositions governing two or more nouns, there is no need to repeat the prepositions if the nouns are similar in meaning.

  • Il est parti avec une valise et un sac à dos.
  • He went off with a suitcase and a backpack.

However, if the preposition should be repeated before each noun if the nouns have distinct or opposing meanings.

  • On se marie pour le pire et pour le meilleur.
  • Marriage is for better or worse.

As a general rule, it is more common, and usually good manners to repeat prepositions in formal written French.


Hello, everyone! This topic will be broken up into 5 or 6 parts as I’ll be going into the literal and idiomatic uses of these prepositions, and there are a lot. Just a head’s up. Have a great week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

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Practice Set : Prepositions Avec & Sans

Lessons: Prepositions Avec & Sans

Sans or Avec? Complete each phrase with either avec or sans.

  1. He’s an unimaginative man. C’est un homme ____ imagination.
  2. She answered bitterly. Elle a répondu ____ amertume.
  3. They write effortlessly. Ils écrivent ____ effort.
  4. Come eat with us! I really mean it! Viens manger avec nous ! ____ façons !
  5. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have finished the job. ____ elle, nous n’aurions pas fini le travail.
  6. With the ice on the road, driving is difficult. ____ le verglas, il est difficile de conduire.
  7. You have to handle him carefully. Il faut le prendre ____ des gants.
  8. Don’t go out barefoot. Ne sors pas ____ chaussures.
  9. You have to speak sweetly to her. Il faut lui parler ____ douceur.
  10. He threw himself into the fray unflinchingly. Il s’est lancé au combat ____ broncher.

Give the French equivalent to each each expression using avec or sans in each case.

  1. doubtless
  2. otherwise
  3. heartless
  4. unemployed
  5. lovingly
  6. kindly
  7. anything else?
  8. unhesitatingly

The answers to this practice set will be posted as a comment in the next few days.

See you Thursday!

Courtney

Preposition : Sans

The preposition sans is the equivalent of the English word “without”.

  • Notre équipe a dû jouer sans notre meilleur joueur. | Our team had to play without our best player.
  • Sans argent on ne peut rien faire. | Without money you can’t do anything.
  • Je me suis couché sans avoir fini mon travail. | I went to bed without having finished my work.

Sans can mean if it weren’t for… or but for…

  • Sans ce plan, on se serait perdus. | If it weren’t for this street map, we would have gotten lost.

The preposition sans + noun is often the equivalent of an English adjective ending in -less or an adjective with a negative prefix such as un- or in-.

  • sans abrisans domicile fixehomeless
  • une situation sans remède – a hopeless person
  • un film sans intérêt – an uninteresting film
  • une femme sans préjugés – an unprejudiced/unbiased woman
  • sans doute – doubtless
  • sans effort – effortless

The use of sans with negative words eliminates the need for ne. The partitive article often becomes de after sans because of the implied negative meaning of the preposition.

  • sans parler à personne – without speaking to anyone
  • sans rien faire – without doing anything
  • sans jamais l’avoir vu – without ever having seen him
  • sortir sans faire de bruit – to go out without making any noise

Hello, followers! I will be posting my first practice set this week. I just don’t know what day would be best – I’m thinking either Friday or Saturday. What would you all prefer? This first set will cover this lesson and last weeks lesson.

A bientôt !

Courtney

Prepositions : Avec

The preposition avec expresses accompaniment, much like the English word “with”.

  • Attends, j’irais avec toi. | Wait, I’ll go with you.
  • Je suis d’accord avec vous. | I agree with you.

Avec labels the clause.

  • Avec l’inflation, tout le monde parle des prix. | With inflation, everyone is talking about prices.
  • J’ai peur de conduire avec toute cette neige. | I’m afraid to drive with all this snow.

Avec expresses in addition to.

  • Et avec cela (ça), madame ? | Anything else, ma’am? (In a store.)
  • Il n’a pas étudié et avec ça il a séché le cours. | He didn’t study, and on top of that he cut class.

Avec + noun is often the equivalent of an English adverb.

  • avec joie | joyfully
  • avec colère | angrily

I’m thinking of adding, in addition to these posts, having a practice set, or homework, with an answer key posted on another day. What do you guys think?

ALSO, my blog turned 5 years old last Thursday! I can’t believe I forgot to mention it!

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

The Preposition à

Continuing from last weeks post with the preposition à.

The preposition à also:

  • Is used with nouns derived from verbs or with infinitives as a replacement for a subordinate clause.
    • à mon arrivée | when I got there (upon my arrival)
    • à notre retour | when we got back (upon our return)
    • à l’entendre chanter | when I heard him/her sing (upon hearing him/her sing)
    • à la réflexion | if you think about it (upon second thought)
  • Translates as at and to with certain nouns.
    • à ma grande surprise, joie | to my great surprise, joy
    • à sa consternation | to his dismay
    • à la demande de tous | at everyone’s request
  • Expresses a standard for judging or knowing (and means by, according to, from)
    • reconnaître quelqu’un à sa voix | to recognise someone by his/her voice
    • à ce que j’ai compris, il ne viendra pas | from what I understood, he won’t come
    • juger quelque chose aux résultats | to judge something by the results

Here are some idioms and useful expressions with à:

Location:

  • se couper au doigt | to cut one’s finger
  • qui est à l’appareil ? | who’s calling?
  • à côté | next door, nearby
  • à côté de | next to
  • à deux pas de chez moi | right near my house
  • être à la page | to be up to date
  • à la une | on the front page (newspapers, news websites)

Time:

  • à la fois | at the same time, at once
  • à l’instant | a moment ago
  • à ses heures (libres) | in one’s free time
  • à plusieurs reprises | several times
  • à tout moment | all the time

It was requested that I make more posts from last weeks blog post, so I will be working on that over the next few weeks. I thank you in advance for your patience!

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Prepositions : à

The preposition à has many uses in French. Remember its contractions: à + le → auà + les → auxÀ is also used before infinitives in many constructions.

Expresses direction and location in space:

  • aller à la banque | to go to the bank
  • être à la banque | to be at the bank

Labels distance in time and space:

  • habiter à quinze kilomètres de Paris | to live fifteen kilometers from Paris
  • être à trois heures de Nice | to be three hours from Nice

Expresses the point in time at which something happens (clock time, age):

  • à quelle heure le train part-il ? | what time does the train leave?
  • arriver à 7n heures du soir | to arrive at 7 in the evening
  • à dix-huit ansat (the age of) eighteen

Expresses the manner or style in which something is done:

  • manger à la française | to eat French style
  • coucher à quatre dans une chambre | to sleep four to a room

Labels the principal ingredient in a dish or a characteristic feature:

  • un sandwich au fromage | a cheese sandwich
  • une glace aux fraisesstrawberry ice cream
  • la femme au chapeau | the woman in (wearing) the hat
  • une chemise à manches longues | a long-sleeved shirt

Expresses possession or belonging to someone:

  • ce stylo est au prof | this pen is the professor’s
  • c’est bien gentil à toi | that’s really nice of you

Expresses the means by which something is done:

  • fait à la main | made by hand
  • aller à bicycletteà pied | to go by bikeon foot
  • écrire au crayon | to write in pencil

Is used in expressions of measurement:

  • faire du 70 à l’heure | to do 70 kilometers an hour
  • vendre au kiloau mètre | to sell by the kilogramby the meter
  • être payé au mois | to be paid monthly
  • un à unpeu à peu one by one little by little

Indicates the purpose for which an object is intended:

  • une tasse à thé | a teacup
  • sandwichs à emporter | sandwiches to take out

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Special Cases with “de”

Many verbs and verbal expressions require de before an infinitive complement. Among them are verbs signifying an interruption of the action expressed by the infinitive.

Special Cases with “de”

S’indiquer de is usually translated as “it makes (someone) indignant that”.

  • Le prof s’indigne de voir que nous ne travaillons pas.
  • It makes the professor indignant to see that we are not studying.

Se souvenir de is most often followed by the infinitive of the auxiliary + the past participle (the perfect infinitive).

  • Je ne me souviens pas de l’avoir vu.
  • I don’t remember having seen him.
  • Elle ne se souvient pas d’être sortie avec lui.
  • She doesn’t remember going out with him.

In French, n’oubliez pas de is used to tell someone to remember to do something.

  • N’oubliez pas de rédiger le rapport.
  • Remember to write up the report.

Bien faire de means “to be right in (doing something), to do the wise thing by (doing something)”.

  • Tu as bien faire de nous prévenir.
  • You were wise to let us know.

Venir de means “to have just (done something)”.

  • Il n’est plus là. Il vient de quitter le bureau.
  • He’s not here anymore. He has just left the office.

See you all next week, everyone. Have a good one!

A bientôt !

Courtney