19 Essential French Prepositions & Examples and Audio Pronunciation

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

French prepositions or linking words will help connect one idea to the next. 19 common French connecting words + examples + audio recordings

What is a Preposition?

A preposition is a small word that connects places or ideas together.

In English, common prepositions include “at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to,”

In this article, I don’t wish to go explore difficult grammatical concepts and explain the difference between conjunctions, prepositions or locutions.

My aim is to give you useful French prepositions – I prefer calling them “linking words” to help you connect ideas between them.

Knowing these French linking words often make THE difference in your French speaking skills, and convey meanings that can nuance the whole sentence.

A big thank you to my Skype French student Sandeep who helped me put this list together.

Understanding these often subtle notions can be hard, that is why I wanted to give examples for all of them, and record them so you have the correct pronunciation. I hope these will be helpful to you.

For each group of French prepositions, click on the audio link to hear my recording.

10 Essential French Prepositions

1 – à (to, at, in + city).

  • Je parle à Paul. (I am speaking toPaul).
  • Je travaille à trois heures. (I work at 3).
  • Je travaille à Paris. (in + city) (I work in Paris).

À contracts with the French definite article to make au and aux.

2 – de (from, of, about).

  • Je rentre de Paris. (I am coming back from Paris).
  • Un kilo de bananes. (One kilo of banana).
  • Je parle de Paul. (I am talking about Paul).

De contracts with the French definite article to make du and des – read also about the partitive French article.

De also takes élision and becomes d’ in front of a vowel or an h.

3 – chez (at/to someone’s place).

  • Je suis chez Anne. (I am at Ann’s place).
    Note : Je vais chez moi =I’m going home.

4 – en (in, by).

  • Elle travaille en France (in+feminine country) (she works in France).
  • Nous sommes en juin.(en + month) (it’s June).
  • Nous sommes en 2007 (en + year) (it’s 2007).
  • Elle voyage en voiture (en + transportation inside which you are) (She is travelling by car).

En can also be a French pronoun.

Learn more about how to say the date in French.

5 – sur ≠ sous (on ≠ under).

  • Le livre est sur la table. (the book is on the table).
  • Non, il est sous la table. (no, it’s under the table).

6 – au dessus de ≠ en dessous de (above ≠ under – without touching the object)

  • Au dessus du sofa, il y a un tableau. (above the sofa, there is a painting).
  • En dessous du sofa, il y a une balle. (under the sofa, there is a ball).

7 – dessus ≠ dessous (above/over/on top ≠ underneath – at the end of a sentence).

  • Le coussin va dessus, et la balle dessous. (the cushion goes on top, and the ball underneath).

8 – dans (inside, in, within).

  • Le livre est dans la table. (the book is inside the table – LOL, upon reading this sentence again, this is not really correct… the book is inside the table’s drawer would have been better… But you get the idea I hope!!)
  • le film est dans trois heures (the movie is in 3 hours).
  • j’arrive dans deux minutes (I’ll be here within 2 minutes).

9 – dedans ≠ dehors (in,inside ≠ out, outside at the end of a sentence).

  • Le chien est dans l’appartement ? (Is the dog in the apartment ?).
  • Oui, il est dedans. (yes, he’s inside).
  • Non, il est dehors. (No, he’s outside).

10 – devant ≠ derrière. (in front of ≠ behind).

  • Devant la maison, il y a un jardin. (in front of the house, there’s a garden).
  • Derrière la maison, il y a une piscine. (behind the house, there is a swimming-pool).
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9 Common French Prepositions

11 – En face de (facing, across from).

  • Le magasin est en face du musée. (the shop is across from the museum).

12 – à côté de/ près de (beside, near, next to).

  • Le magasin est à côté du musée. (the shop is next/near/beside the museum).
  • Il habite près de chez moi. (he lives near my house).

13 – loin de (far from).

  • Il habite loin de chez moi. (he lives far from me).

14 – entre (between).

  • Il habite entre la rue de Passy et la rue d’Ys. (he lives between Passy and Ys streets).

15 – parmi (among).

  • Il y a un traitre parmi nous. (there is a traitor among us).

16 – au milieu de (in the middle of).

  • Ce village est au milieu de nulle part. (this village is in the middle of nowhere).

17 – autour de (around)

  • je mets mon écharpe autour de mon cou. (I put my scarf around my neck).

18 – en dehors de / hors de (outside from)

  • en dehors de lui, personne ne sait. (Outside from him, nobody knows).

19 – par (through).

  • Je passe par Paris (I go through Paris).
    Note ; par ici ! (this way !)
    Il habite par ici. (he lives around here).

The best way to understand and memorize these little French connecting words is to learn them in the context of a story.

Check out my downloadable French audiobooks: my bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation. My French audiobooks are exclusively available on French Today.

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Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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