Exceptional prepositions in French
Prepositions à, de and en
The prepositions à and de are combined with the articles le and les to make one compound word.
|Prepositions + Article||Examples|
à + le = au
|J'habite au Mexique. (I live in Mexico.)|
à + les = aux
|Elle est aux Etats-Unis. (She's in the States.)|
de + le = du
|Parler du livre. (Speak about the book.)|
de + les = des
|Parler des livres. (Speak about the books.)|
Prepositions avant and devant
In general avant and devant are translated into English as “before”. In French, however, these prepositions can have a different meaning – so we use avant when we refer to time and devant when we refer to space.
Quitter le cinéma avant la fin du film.
Sophie se brosse les dents avant d’aller se coucher.
Leaving the cinema before the end of the film.
Sophie brushes her teeth before she goes to bed.
Attendre son ami devant le cinéma.
Il attend tous les jours devant la boulangerie.
To wait for your friend in front of the cinema.
He waits every day in front of the bakery.
Prepositions afin/avant + Infinitive
If afin and avant are used in front of an infinitive, you have to regard that de is placed between the preposition and the infinitve:
- avant le repas → before the meal
- avant de manger → before the meal
Prepositions with verbs
Some French verbs can be followed by an infinitive and linked to it by either de or à, or no preposition at all:
|Verb + Preposition||Translation|
|apprendre à faire qc||learn to do something|
|arriver à faire qc||reach to do something|
|assister à qc||to attend something|
|chercher à faire qc||look to do something|
|choisir de faire qc||choose to do something|
|commander à qn de faire qc||order someone to do something|
|commencer à / de faire qc||beginning to do something|
|continuer à / de faire qc||continue to do something|
|décider de faire qc||decide to do something|
|défendre qc à qn||defend something from someone|
|demander à qn de faire qc||require something from someone|
|penser à qc / qn||think of someone/something|
|répondre à qc / qn||answer something/someone|
|téléphoner à qn||to call someone|
|voler qc à qn||steal something from someone|
Prepositions with adjectives
Just like verbs, some French adjectives can be linked to what follows by either à or de:
|Adjective + Preposition||Translation|
|être capable de faire||being able to do|
|être certain de faire||being certain to do|
|être content de faire qc||being satisfied to do something|
|être exclu de qc||being excluded from something|
|être heureux de faire qc||being happy to do|
|être impatient de faire||being impatient to do|
|être incapable de faire||being incapable to do|
|être nécessaire à qc||being necessary to do sth|
|être prêt à faire qc||being ready to do|
|être responsable de qc||being responsible to do|
|être satisfait de qc||being satisfied to do|
|être seul à faire qc||being alone with doing sth|
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