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Expressing Location in French

Expressing location in French is trickier than in English, and the different nuances are expressed through different rules.

Dans, en, and à can all be used to express “in,”  but their usage is very specific.

1) Dans means inside, or a known location:

Examples:

Je suis dans la ville./ I am inside the city.

Mon portefeuille est dans ma poche./ My wallet is inside my pocket.

2) À (au, à l’, à la, aux) means in/at, a general location, or a location without boundaries:

Examples:

Je suis à la campagne. / I am in the country.

Je suis à la montagne. / I am at the mountains.

3) En used with ville (city), prison (jail)

Examples:

Le voleur est en prison. / The thief is in jail.

Where and when to use the correct preposition.

Location Nuance Cities Feminine countries/locations, or masculine locations starting with a vowel Masculine locations not starting with a vowel plurals
In à en au aux
To à en au aux
From de (d’) de (d’) du des

Examples:

Nous sommes à Paris. / We are in Paris.

Ils viennent de Londres. / They come from London.

Ils arrivent en Espagne. / They arrive in Spain.

Vous vivez en Suisse. / You live in Switzerland.

Nous partons au Canada. / We leave for Canada.

Je viens du Mexique. / I come from Mexixo.

Ils ont attéris aux Bahamas. / They have landed in the Bahamas.

Tu viens des Etats-Unis. / You come from the United States.

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