French Prepositions of place explained


French prepositions are short words that connect elements of the sentence and help make sense. Like conjunctions, they are invariable. However, they are one of the common sources of mistakes made by French learners. There are many prepositions in the French language. Among them, are the prepositions of place, that you will be learning today.

Keep reading to learn more and practice with our quiz.



French prepositions of place


Simple prepositions of place


Prepositions of place, called Les prépositions de lieu en français, are used to locate someone or something, sometimes in relation to another person or thing.

Below is a list of the common prepositions used for the location with their English translation and examples of sentences.

French preposition

English preposition

Example of sentence

Sur

On

Le fauteuil est sur le tapis.

Sous

Under

Le tapis est sous le fauteuil

Devant

In front

Le chien est devant le chat.

Derrière

Behind

​Le chat est derrière le chien.

Dans

In

L'armoire est dans la chambre.

En

In

Elle est en France.

Entre

Between

Le supermarché est entre le café et la poste

Contre

Against

​Le tableau est contre le mur.

Vers

​Toward

Va vers la station de métro.

De

from

Ils sont de Paris.




The preposition en is generally used with countries with the feminine gender. J'habite en Espagne - en France, en Italie, ...


Note that these prepositions can sometimes have different meanings. It all depends on the context.


For instance, the preposition à can also indicate:

  • the possession: C'est à vous ce vélo? Is it yours this bicycle?

  • the time : C'est à quelle heure? At what time is it?

  • the contenant : un verre à vin => A wine glass

  • the price: C''est à 10 euros.

The preposition de can also convey the following meanings:

  • the provenance/origin: Il vient du Maroc. => He comes from Morocco.

  • the possession: C'est la fille de Marc. => It is the daughter of Marc.

  • the content of something: un verre de vin => a glass of wine

  • the price: une chemise de 50 euros. => A 50 euros shirt.


The prepositions à and chez


À and Chez are prepositions used to indicate the destination or location.

Examples :

  • Je suis à Paris => I am in Paris.

  • Je vais à Paris. => I am going to Paris

  • Je suis chez ma sœur => I am at my sister's place

So, what's the difference between à and chez?


À is generally used to refer to a place like a building. Example: je vais à la poste. => I am going to the post office.

Note that the preposition à is generally followed with a definite article (le, la,l', les). When it is followed with Le or Les, you should use the contracted articles au (for à le), aux (for à les).

Examples:

  • Je vais à l'arrêt de bus. => I am going to the bus stop

  • Nous allons au restaurant => We are going to the restaurant.

  • Ils habitent aux États-Unis => They are living in the US.

Chez is equivalent to the English word at, while à can be translated as to ( destination), in, or at ( location).

Chez is used when referring to someone's place. Example: Je vais chez Laura. I am going to Laura's place/home.


Some professions can also be used with the preposition chez (le médecin, le boulanger, le fleuriste, le coiffeur, ...)

Eg. : Je vais chez le médecin. =>I am going to the doctor.


Chez is often used with the emphasizing pronouns like moi, toit, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, elle. Chez moi refers to at my place/home. Chez toi = at your place, Chez eux =at their place, ans so on.


Phrasal prepositions


Most of the phrasal prepositions have to do with directions as prepositions of place are a lot used in giving directions. Here is a list of phrasal prepositions you can use to locate things.


  • au-dessus (de): above (of)

  • en dessous (de): below

  • À côté (de): near, next to

  • Près de: near, close to

  • Loin (de): far from

  • En haut (de): On top of

  • en bas (de): down

  • En face (de): opposite of /facing

  • au milieu (de): in between, in the middle of

  • à gauche (de): on the left/to the left

  • à droite (de): on the right/to the right


I put the preposition de between brackets as you may need to use it or not depending on the situation.

Example:

  • Question: Où se trouve la poste? => Where is the post office?

  • Answer 1 : c'est à côté. => It's nearby.

  • Answer 2: c'est à côté de la banque. => It's near the bank.



Practice your prepositions with this exercise

In this exercise, you have to pick the right preposition between the right ones.

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