À vs de

De vs à
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French prepositions

As if the myriad possible translations of à and de aren’t enough, these two French prepositions also have complementary and contrasting uses.

Be sure to take a look at the individual lessons before studying this comparative chart:

À vs de with a(n) …

Place

current location, destinationvs origin, starting point
Il est à Lille.He’s in Lille. Il est de Lille.He’s from Lille.
Il va à Nantes.He’s going to Nantes. Il part de Nantes.He’s leaving (from) Nantes.

Distance

in time or spacevs point of reference
Le café est à 10 minutes …The café is 10 minutes … … du magasin.… from the store.
J’habite à 2 km …I live 2 kilometers… … d’ici.… from here.

Description

stylevs purpose, defining feature
sac à mainhand bag sac de couchagesleeping bag
cousu à la machinemachine-sewn cousu de paillettessequinned

Object

function, "for"vs contents, "of, with"
verre à vinwine glass verre de vinglass of wine
salle à mangerdining room salle de bainsbathroom

Ingredient

one of several, "made with"vs primary, "made of"
salade au chèvresalad with chèvre salade de fruitsfruit salad
thé au citrontea with lemon jus de citronlemon juice

Possession

emphasis on ownervs general ownership
Cette voiture est à moi.This car is mine. la voiture de LiseLise’s car
un ami à mon pèrea friend of my dad’s un ami de mon pèremy dad’s friend

 Related lessons

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À vs de - French prepositions

 

À vs de - French prepositions

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4 Responses

  1. Carole 19 January 2018 / 0:34

    i’m very confused about the à vs de usage with ingredients. do you have any more examples? a chocolate chip cookie, for example… bisquit aux pepites de chocolat? chicken broth: bouillon au poulet?

    • lkl 19 January 2018 / 10:09

      Chocolate chip cookie = un biscuit aux pepites de chocolat, because chocolate chips are only one of many ingredients.

      Chicken stock = bouillon de poulet, because you basically make it by boiling a chicken, that is the sole or primary ingredient.

  2. soheyl.moheb 4 January 2017 / 21:11

    hello miss lawless.

    thanks so much for this post.
    I had some troubles understanding why they use ‘à’ for ‘salle à manger’ and I asked it in duolingo and my friend there linked me to your post. so great that you had the exact example here.

    so great and convincing as always.