French Language Focus: The Preposition ‘en’


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French Language Focus: The Preposition ‘en’

I remember the first French textbook I had at school was titled ‘En route’, or ‘On the Way’. That was over forty years ago; I’ve travelled a long way down that road of learning French, and I’m still enjoying travelling along it. There is another article looking at how ‘en‘ is used as a pronoun, but this article looks at ‘en‘ as a preposition – in other words when it is followed by a noun.

En can be used to mean ‘in’ or ‘to’ a country that is feminine:

J’habite en France. – I live in France.

Ils partent en Suisse. – They are going to Switzerland.

Here are some other expressions using ‘en’ as a preposition:

en fait – in fact

en face de – opposite
La banque est en face de la gare. – The bank is opposite the station.

en classe – in class
Les élèves sont en classe. – The pupils are in class.

En + present participle = ‘while doing’
Je me suis endormi en lisant. – I fell asleep whilst reading.
On est sorti en courant. – We ran out.

Ma soeur est allée en ville. – My sister has gone into town.

Nous pourrions le faire en deux mois. – We could do it in two months.

en voiture/avion/bateau – by car/plane/boat
Ils n’aiment pas voyager en voiture. – they don’t like travelling by car.

être en bleu – to be in blue

Elle est arrivée en robe de soirée. – She arrived in an evening dress.

Ca se vend en paquets de dix. – It’s sold in packets of ten.

en français/anglais – in French/English

Est-ce que vous avez le même article en rouge? – Do you have the same item in red?

C’est en quoi? – What’s it made of?

La bague est en or/argent. – The ring is in silver/gold.

mesurer en centimètres – to measure in centimetres, etc.

With thanks to Elizabeth Allen

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