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French preposition à
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French preposition

The preposition à is generally summarized as "to, at, or in," but it has quite a few more meanings and uses than that.

  When à is followed by the definite article le or les, the two words must contract.

    le   les   But…   la   l’
à   au   aux       à la   à l’

 However, à does not contract with the direct objects le and les.

Je me prépare à le faire – I’m getting ready to do it.

1) Destination

      Nous allons à Nice.   We’re going to Nice.
  Je veux conduire à la poste.   I want to drive to the post office.

2) Location

  Habitez-vous à Toulouse ?   Do you live in Toulouse?
  Elle est à l’école.   She’s at school.

3) Distance

  Nous sommes à deux kilomètres de la plage.   We’re two kilometers from the beach.
  Il habite à 20 minutes d’ici.   He lives 20 minutes away from here.

4) Point in time

      Elle va arriver à midi.   She’ll arrive at noon.
  J’ai publié mon premier livre à 25 ans.   I published my first book at 25.

5) Until

  à demain   until tomorrow
  à la prochaine   until next time

6) Range

      Il me faut 2 à 3 heures pour le faire.   I need 2 to 3 hours to do it.
  du lundi au samedi   from Monday to Saturday

7) Purpose or use

      un verre à vin   wine glass (glass for wine)
  un sac à main   hand bag

8) Characteristic

  une fille au teint pâle   pale-skinned girl
  chaussures à talon haut   high-heeled shoes

9) Manner or style

  une robe à manches   dress with sleeves
  un tapis fait à la machine   machine-made rug

10) Measurement

  acheter au kilo   to buy by the kilo
  faire du 110 km à l’heure   to go 110 km per hour

11) Possession

  C’est à moi.   It’s mine.
  Cet argent est à Michel.   This is Michel’s money.

12) In the passive infinitive

  à vendre   for sale
  Nous n’avons rien à faire.   We have nothing to do.

13) After verbs

  Many verbs must be followed by à in front of a noun or infinitive.

14) After adjectives

  Some adjectives must be followed by à in front of a noun or infinitive.

 Related lessons

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À - French preposition
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