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Learn French Language Guide - Learn French Grammar

French Prépositions 

Prépositions are words used to connect sentence elements (words). It connects a main word (element) to a dependent word (element) that qualifies the main word in some fashion. 

Examples: 

Le cheval à bascule. / The rocking horse.

La pièce en argent. / The coin made of silver. 

Simple Prépositions: 

à (to);  après (after);  avant (before);  avec (with);  chez (at, to);  concernant (regarding);  contre (against);  dans or en (in);  de (about, from, of);  depuis (since); derrière (behind);  dès (as soon as);  devant (in front of);  durant (during);  entre (between);  excepté (excepted);  hors (except);  malgré (despite);  par (by, through) parmi (among);  pendant (during);  pour (for);  sans (without);  sauf (except);  selon (according to);  sous (under);  sur (on);  vers (toward). 

Examples: 

Le chat sur le toit. /  The cat on the roof.

Il faut passer par là. /  One must go though there.

À vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire. / Vanquishing without peril, one wins without glory.

Complex prépositions:  

Complex prépositions are combinations of words (usually a préposition and another word) that serve the same purpose as simple prépositions in French.  

À cause de (because of);  à dater de (from  a certain date);  à force de (by dint of, by force of);  à l'abri de (sheltered by);  à l'exception de (with the exception of);  à l'insu de (unbeknownst to);  à moins de (unless of);  à partir de (from);  à raison de, à travers (through);  afin de (so that);  au-dedans de (within of);  au-delà de (beyond of);  au-dessous de (below of);  au-dessus de (above of);  au lieu de (instead of);  au moment de (at the moment of);  auprès de (near of);  autour de (around of);  avant de (before of);  d'après (according to);  de peur de (from fear of);  du côté de (by the side of);  en dehors de (outside of);  en dépit de (in spite of);  en faveur de (in favor of);  face à (faced to);  faute de (for lack of);  grâce à (thanks to);  hors de (outside of);  jusqu'à (until);  le long de (along to);  loin de (far from);  près de (close to);  tandis que (even though). 

Examples: 

Nous avons raté le bus à cause du mauvais temps. / We missed the bus because of bad weather.

Les magasins sont autour de la place. / The stores are around the public square.

Avant de partir, il faut se préparer. / Before leaving, on must be prepared. 

More préposition rules:

            1) a preposition + noun modifying another noun = adjective

             Example:  Un jeu de cartes / A game of cards.

             2) à (au, aux) + noun = function, characteristic of the main word

            Example:  Une fille aux cheveux blonds / A girl with blond hair.

             3) à + verb = function of main word

             Example:  Une machine à coudre / A sewing machine

             4) de, en + noun =  (made of, or for)

             Examples:

                        Une bague en or / A ring made of gold

                        Un chien de chasse/ A hunting dog (a dog for hunting)

             5) préposition + noun modifying verb = adverb

             Example:  Je suis parti en retard. / I left late.

             6) Whereas English is lax when it comes to the need for a preposition before an indirect object, French is stricter.  As a result, the following verbs take the à préposition before an indirect object:

appartenir à (belong to);  apprendre à (learn to);  donner à (give to);       enseigner à (teach to);  obéir à (obey);  pardonner à (forgive);  penser à (think       about);  répondre à (answer);  ressembler à (resemble)

 

            Examples:

Elle pense à lui. / She thinks of him.

Nous apprenons à parler anglais. / We are learning to speak English.

 

            7) When two verbs follow each other, in French as in English, the second verb is an infinitive (e.g. J’aide à faire la lessive / I’m helping to do the laundry) – except of course for compound tenses.  Whereas in English, the preposition to is used to denote the infinitive, several prepositions serve the same function in French depending on the leading verb:

 

                        a) verb + à + verb:

                        aider (help);  s'amuser (have fun);  apprendre (learn to);  commencer (begin);  consister (consist);  continuer (continue);  se décider (decide); encourager (encourage);  enseigner (teach to);  s'habituer (get used to);  se mettre (begin);  persister (persist);  renoncer (renounce); réussir (succeed);  servir (serve); songer (think about)

 

                        Examples:

Il se met à cuire le gâteau. / He begins to bake the cake.

Le prince a renoncé au trone. /  The prince has renounced the throne. 

                         b) verb + de + verb:

décider (decide);  se dépêcher (hurry);  empêcher (prevent);  essayer (try to);  mériter (deserve);  s'occuper (take care of);  oublier (forget to);  parler (speak about);  persuader (persuade);  promettre (promise);  refuser (refuse);  regretter (regret);  rêver (dream);  se souvenir (remember); *venir + de + noun (have just)

 

                                    *venir + de + noun (come from)

 

                        Examples:

Il nous empêche de finir nos devoirs. / He’s preventing us from finishing our homework.

 

Il a refusé de confesser. / He has refused to confess.

 

                        c) verb + à + (noun or pronoun) + de + verb:

                        commander (order);  conseiller (advise);  défendre (forbid);  demander (ask);  dire (tell);   interdire (forbid);  ordonner (order); permettre (permit); promettre (promise).

 

                        Examples:

Le général commande aux soldats d’attaquer. / The general orders the soldiers to attack.

 

Les parents défendent à leurs enfants de dire des gros mots. / The parents forbid their kids to swear.

 
 

 

 

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