Public Transportation

Means of transportation in French : Vocabulary list and prepositions

Looking for how to say a car in the French language? Wondering if it's a masculine or feminine word? What are the means of transport in French? With which preposition to use with them? Shoud it be à or en?

Whichever is your preoccupation, you will find an answer to your question here.

In this lesson, you are going to learn the different types of transports in French, the means of transportation and also the prepositions to use with them. By the end, you will be very familiar with the vocabulary of transports and will be able to use words like car, airplane, or train in French. 

Keep on reading till the end to take the test at the end of the lesson.

What are the different types of transportation in French?

Transportation is an important subject in the French language. It is useful for you when talking about ways of traveling, asking a friend how he goes to work or even shipment details for goods.

 

Before speaking about the types of transportation, it is important to define the words transport and transports.

The word transport which is masculine refers to the fact of moving something or people from a place to another.

The word transports refers to all the means of transport.

In general, there are 4 modes of transport depending on the route taken. Here are the names of the transportation with their English translation.

  • le transport routier : by road/land

  • le transport maritime; by sea

  • le transport ferroviaire : by train

  • le transport aérien: by air.

There is also a difference between les transports privés (private transports)  for personal use, and les transports publics / les transports en commun for groups.

 

2. What are common names of means of transport in French?

Here is the list of common means of transport in French that you certainly use everyday. Words starting with "la" like la voiture are feminine and those with le are maxculine. For those with l' the indication (m) stands for masculine.

  • la voiture: car

  • le train : train

  • le métro: subway

  • le tram: tramway

  • l'autobus (m)/le bus: bus

  • le car: bus

  • le taxi: taxi

  • l'avion: airplane

  • l'hélicoptère (m): helicopter

  • le bateau: boat

  • le vélo/la bicyclette: bicycle

  • la moto: motorcycle

  • le tracteur: tractor

  • le camion: truck

  • la caravane: camping car

Be aware that the English word car is translated as voiture in French while the French word "car" refers to a bus used for traveling between cities.

3. French verbs related to transportation

In general, transportation vocabulary can be used with verbs like prendre (to take), voyager (to travel), conduire (to drive) and verbs of movement like those listed  below :

  • aller: to go

  • venir: to come

  • entrer  to enter,

  • sortir: to go out

  • monter: to get in, 

  • descendre: to go down, to alight, to get off

  • arriver: to arrive

  • partir: to leave

Here are examples of sentences using some of the verbs with their English translation. 

  • Je monte dans le bus => I get on the bus

  • Je descends du train => I get off the train

  • Je vais au travail en bus.=> I go to work by train

  • Je conduis pour aller au travail. => I drive to work.

  • Je sors en voiture. => I go out by car

  • J'arrive en train. => I arrive by train.

  • Je prends le bus. => I take the bus.

 

Note

With the verb descendre, remember to use the preposition DE+ a definite article. + a noun. Depending on the gender of that noun, you should use du, de la, de l' or Des. If you are not sure how to use them, then check out the lesson on how to use French articles.

Example

 

  • Descendre de la voiture

  • Descendre de l'avion.

  • Descendre du train

With the verb monter, in general, the prepositions used are dans or sur.

For example : 

  • Je monte sur ma moto. => I get on my motorcycle.

  • Je monte dans ma voiture. => I get in my car.

With the verb prendre, use an article or a determiner.

Example : Je prends le bus pour aller en ville. => Iam taking the bus to go in the city.

Means of transport and the prepositions en and à

 

When talking about the way you are traveling somewhere you use in French the prepositions en or à.  For instance, If you want to say

  • I go to work by bus, you should say Je vais au travail en bus.

  • I go to work by subway, You should say je vais au travail en métro.

  • I go to work on foot => Je vais au travail à pied.

Now how do you know when to use en or à?

 

In general, the preposition en is used for means of transport we can enter in, like le bus, la voiture, le taxi, le camion, le bateau,...

The preposition à is used for those transports we cannot enter in like le vélo, la moto, le cheval. In general, we get on them.

For example

  • Je vais au défilé à cheval. => I am going to the parade on a horse.

  • Je vais au théâtre à pied. => I go to the theater on foot.

  • Je vais à l école en bus. => I go to school by bus.

However, the rule relative to the use of à is not always strictly applied as you can see some people using en instead.

For instance, " Je me déplace à vélo versus Je me déplace en vélo. Both would be accepted but the preference would be to the first one.

Another remark! Some means of transportation in which we can't enter in are only used with the preposition en. For example se déplacer en luge, en traineau ...

Means of transport and prepositions.jpg

Practice your knowledge about French means of transports

Practice makes perfect. To help you check your knowledge of the French means of transports as well as the appropriate preposition, we have designed the Quiz below. Take it to see how well you know much you understood this lesson, and make sure you have at least 6/8.