Tag Archive | Sans

Simple Prepositions – Literal & Idiomatic Uses Part 8

Part 8 in this series.

sans – without

“Il est parti sans parapluie.” | “He left without his umbrella.”

Note that when “without” is followed by “a/any” in English, no article is required after sans in French.

  • “Vous ne pouvez pas voir le médecin sans rendez-vous.” | “You cannot see the doctor without an appointment.”
  • “C’est une ville sans divertissements.” | “It’s a town without any leisure activities.”

Sans can also be used to translate “but for”.

  • “Je me serais perdu sans la carte.” | “I would have got lost but for the map.”

sauf – except

“Tout le monde est présent sauf Sophie.” | “Everyone is here except Sophie.”

Sauf is used in a few formal phrases to mean “save”.

  • “Les comptes sont bons, sauf erreur de ma part.” | “The accounts are in order, save for any error on my part.”

selon – according to

Selon le porte-parole du gouvernement, la décision sera annoncée demain.” | “According to the government spokesperson, the decision will be announced tomorrow.”

“C’est un produit bien adapté au marché européen selon lui.” | “It’s a product which is well suited to the European market according to him/in his opinion.”

sous – under

“Les enfants se sont arrêtés sous mon balcon.” | “The children stopped under my balcony.”

Sous is used in formal French to express “within” + time.

  • “Nous espérons obtenir son accord sous peu.” | “We hope to obtain his/her agreement within a short time.”

Sous is used to translate “in/from” with reference to perspective or viewpoint.

  • “Il faut envisager le problème sous un autre angle.” | “We need to look at the problem from another angle.”
  • “L’avocat a représenté leur demande sous un jour favorable.” | “The lawyer presented their request in a favorable light.”

Sous is also used in the following common idioms where English uses a different preposition.

  • sous forme de | in the form/shape of
  • sous main | at hand
  • sous prétexte de | under the pretext of
  • sous le règne de | in the reign of

sur – on/upon

“Les clés sont sur la table.” | “The keys are on the table.”

“Votre jugement est basé sur quels critères ?” | “What criteria is your judgement based upon?”

Sur is used to translate “in/out of” for fractions or statistics.

  • “Un mariage sur trois va aboutir au divorce.” | “One marriage in three will end in divorce.”
  • “Le professeur lui a donné treize sur vingt pour sa dissertation.” | “The professor gave him/her thirteen out of twenty for his/her essay.”

Sur is used in the construction noun + sur + same noun, to mean “after/upon”.

  • “Ce pays a reçu coup sur coup.” | “This country has received blow after/upon blow.”

Sur is used in the following common idioms where English uses a different preposition.

  • sur le champ | at the time/on the spot
  • sur les (deux) heures | towards (two) o’clock
  • sur le moment | at the time
  • sur un ton (+ adjective) | in a (adjective) voice

vers – towards

“L’agent se dirigea vers les Champs Elysées.” | “The policeman headed towards the Champs Elysées.”

Vers la fin de sa vie, il se rapprocha de l’église.” | “Towards the end of his life, he grew close to the church again.”

Vers is used to translate “at about” with references to times.

  • “Le concert va commencer vers huit heures.” | “The concert will start at about eight o’clock.”

The last post in this really long series! Have a great week, everyone, and I’ll get back to posting normal things next week!

A la prochaine…



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!


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 !