This article introduces prepositions and their usage in English grammar. Readers will learn about different types of prepositions, their roles in sentences, and how to use them correctly. Additionally, it covers common preposition phrases and their meanings, enhancing understanding and application in writing and speech.

Understanding Prépositions in French

Prepositions in French are words that link nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence. They play a crucial role in conveying spatial and temporal relations, such as location (“dans” – in) and time (“à” – at). Common French prepositions include “de” (of/from), “avec” (with), and “pour” (for), each serving to connect and clarify sentence elements.

Prepositions of Time

Prepositions of time in French are used to indicate when something happens. They help specify the timing, duration, and frequency of events. Understanding these prepositions is crucial for accurate communication in both written and spoken French. Below is a table of common French prepositions of time, their English translations, usage, and examples.

àatSpecific timeJe me lève à 7 heures. (I get up at 7 o’clock.)
eninMonth, season, yearElle arrive en juillet. (She arrives in July.)
depuissinceStarting point in the pastIl habite ici depuis 2010. (He has lived here since 2010.)
pendantduringDuration of timeIl a dormi pendant 8 heures. (He slept for 8 hours.)
jusqu’àuntilEnd point in timeAttends jusqu’à 18h00. (Wait until 6:00 PM.)
versaroundApproximate timeJe vais partir vers midi. (I will leave around noon.)
avantbeforeBefore a specific timeFinis tes devoirs avant le dîner. (Finish your homework before dinner.)
aprèsafterAfter a specific timeNous partirons après le déjeuner. (We will leave after lunch.)
dèsfrom/as soon asAfter a specific timeDès son arrivée, nous avons commencé. (As soon as he arrived, we started.)

Prepositions of Place and Movement

Prepositions of place and movement in French indicate the location or direction of objects and actions. They are crucial for describing spatial relationships and movements accurately. Below is a table of common French prepositions of place and movement, their English translations, usage, and examples.

àat/in/toSpecific location or directionJe vais à Paris. (I am going to Paris.)
au-dessousbeneath, belowLower positionLe chat est au-dessous de la table. (The cat is beneath the table.)
au-dessusaboveHigher position   L’avion vole au-dessus des nuages. (The plane flies above the clouds.)
autour dearoundSurrounding areaNous marchons autour de la ville. (We walk around the city.)
chezat the house ofSomeone’s home or placeJe suis chez Marie. (I am at Marie’s house.)
dansinInside a spaceIl est dans la voiture. (He is in the car.)
defromOrigin or starting pointElle vient de France. (She comes from France.)
derrièrebehindPosition at the backLe jardin est derrière la maison. (The garden is behind the house.)
devantin front ofPosition at the frontLa voiture est devant le garage. (The car is in front of the garage.)
eninState or conditionIl est en classe. (He is in class.)
en face dein front of, facingOpposite positionLe café est en face de l’école. (The café is facing the school.)
loin defar fromDistance fromIl habite loin de la ville. (He lives far from the city.
parmiamongBeing part of a groupElle est parmi ses amis. (She is among her friends.)
sousbelowLower position Le chien est sous la table. (The dog is below the table.)
suronOn top of Le livre est sur la table. (The book is on the table.)
vers towardDirectionIl marche vers la plage. (He walks toward the beach.)

Special Case: “Chez”

“Chez” is a unique preposition in French, used specifically to indicate being at someone’s home, place of work, or a place associated with someone. It cannot be directly translated into English but is often rendered as “at the house of” or “at [someone]’s place.”

Usage: “Chez” is used before a person’s name, profession, or a noun indicating an establishment.


Person’s name: Je suis chez Paul. (I am at Paul’s house.)

Profession: Elle va chez le médecin. (She is going to the doctor.)

Establishment: Nous dînons chez un ami. (We are dining at a friend’s place.)

Prepositions of Countries

In French, the prepositions used with country names depend on the gender and number of the country. Here are the key rules:

1. Feminine Countries: Most countries ending in “-e” are feminine. The preposition en always comes before the name of a country if it is feminine and before masculine countries if they start with a vowel.

Use “en” for “to” or “in”.

Je vais en France. (I am going to France.)

Ils habitent en Italie. (They live in Italy.)

Use “de” for “from”.

Elle revient de France. (She is coming back from France.)

Nous sommes partis d’Italie. (We left Italy.)

2. Masculine Countries: Most countries not ending in “-e” are masculine. The preposition au always comes before the name of a country which is masculine.

Use “au” for “to” or “in”.

Je vais au Canada. (I am going to Canada.)

Ils voyagent au Japon. (They are traveling to Japan.)

Use “du” for “from”.

Il revient du Canada. (He is coming back from Canada.)

Elle arrive du Japon. (She is arriving from Japan.)

3. Plural Countries: The preposition au always comes before plural countries and islands. We,

Use “aux” for “to” or “in”.

Nous allons aux États-Unis. (We are going to the United States.)

Elle étudie aux Pays-Bas. (She is studying in the Netherlands.)

Use “des” for “from”.

Ils viennent des États-Unis. (They are coming from the United States.)

Il revient des Pays-Bas. (He is coming back from the Netherlands.)

Exceptions to the Gender Rule

Some countries have names that do not follow the typical gender rules:

1. Mexique: Although it ends in “-e”, it is masculine.

To/In: Je vais au Mexique. (I am going to Mexico.)

From: Elle revient du Mexique. (She is coming back from Mexico.)

2. Cambodge: Another exception to the “-e” rule.

To/In: Il voyage au Cambodge. (He is traveling to Cambodia.)

From: Nous arrivons du Cambodge. (We are arriving from Cambodia.)

3. Mozambique: Also masculine despite ending in “-e”.

To/In: Ils habitent au Mozambique. (They live in Mozambique.)

From: Elle revient du Mozambique. (She is coming back from Mozambique.)

4. Zimbabwe: Masculine and follows the exception rule.

To/In: Nous allons au Zimbabwe. (We are going to Zimbabwe.)

From: Ils reviennent du Zimbabwe. (They are coming back from Zimbabwe

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases in French combine a preposition with a noun or pronoun to provide additional details about location, direction, or relation. These phrases are essential for conveying precise information and enhancing the clarity of communication.

Below is a table of common French prepositional phrases along with their English equivalents. Following the table are some examples to demonstrate their usage in context.

Prepositional PhrasesMeaning
à côté denext to, beside
à droite deto the right of
à gauche deto the left of
à l’extérieur deoutside (of)
à l’intérieur deinside (of)
au coin deat the corner of
au-dessous debelow, underneath
au-dessus dehigher than, above
autour dearound
en arrière debehind
en bas debelow, at the bottom of
en dehors deapart from
en face defacing, across from,in front of
en haut deabove, at the top of
hors deoutside of,out of
loin defar from
près denear (to),next to


1. à côté de (next to, beside)

Le parc est à côté de l’école.(The park is next to the school.)

2. en face de (facing, across from, in front of)

Le café est en face de la bibliothèque.(The café is facing the library.)

3. à l’intérieur de (inside of)

Il y a un chat à l’intérieur de la maison.(There is a cat inside the house.)

4. en haut de (above, at the top of)

Les livres sont en haut de l’étagère.(The books are at the top of the shelf.)

5. près de (near to, next to)

Mon bureau est près de la fenêtre.(My desk is near the window.)

Other prepositions to mention

contreagainstElle a appuyé l’échelle contre le mur.She leaned the ladder against the wall.
durantduringIls sont restés silencieux durant le film.They remained silent during the movie.
suivantaccording to, followingSuivant les instructions, nous devons tourner à gauche.Following the instructions, we need to turn left.
selonaccording toSelon les experts, il faut boire beaucoup d’eau.According to the experts, one should drink a lot of water.
parby, throughLe livre a été écrit par un auteur célèbre.The book was written by a famous author.
sanswithoutJe ne peux pas vivre sans musique.I cannot live without music.


Prepositions in French are essential for conveying spatial, temporal, and relational nuances, enhancing clarity and precision in communication. Applying this knowledge in daily conversations will improve fluency.

If you’re curious to learn about French Adverbs, check our article – French Adverbs: Meaning, Types with Examples and Exceptions. For more support, explore additional resources or join online French classes at La Forêt. Dive deeper into French grammar and elevate your language skills!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to place the preposition?

In French, prepositions typically precede the noun or pronoun they modify. For example, in “Je vais à Paris” (I am going to Paris), “à” (to) is the preposition that comes before “Paris.” Correct placement of prepositions is crucial for clear and accurate communication. For more detailed guidance, consider joining an online French class at LA Foret.

What is the preposition “à” in French?

The preposition “à” in French is versatile and translates to “to,” “at,” or “in” in English. It is used to indicate location, time, or direction. For example, “à Paris” (in Paris) or “à 8 heures” (at 8 o’clock). Mastering its use is essential for fluency, and LA Foret offers resources to help you learn.

When to use “dont” in French?

“Don’t” in French is used to link clauses, indicating possession, origin, or association. It translates to “whose,” “of which,” “of whom,” or “including.” Examples include: “La fille dont le père est médecin” (The girl whose father is a doctor) and “Les choses dont j’ai besoin” (The things I need).

What are the rules for prepositions in French?

French prepositions have specific rules regarding their usage with nouns, pronouns, and verbs. They often indicate relationships of place, time, and manner. Understanding these rules enhances sentence construction and meaning. For comprehensive learning, including interactive exercises and personalized feedback, explore the French grammar courses at LA Foret.