Prepositions of Place

There are separate articles on the use of à/au/à la/à l’/aux and en, but we will look here are other prepositions of place. Some of these prepositions can be used in other ways, but here we are dealing specifically with place.

SUR
Sur means on:
sur la table – on the table
sur le pont – on the bridge.

SOUS
Sous means under:
sous la chaise – under the chair
sous le pont – under the bridge.

DANS
Dans means in. We have seen that both à and en can sometimes mean in: à Paris – in Paris; en France – in France. Here are some instances where dans is used:
dans la boîte – in the box
dans le village – in the village.

DEVANT
Devant is a one-word equivalent of the English phrase ‘in front of’, so it is easy to use.
Devant la gare – in front of the station
devant moi – in front of me.

DERRIERE
Derrière means behind:
derrière la maison – behind the house.

ENTRE
Entre means between (not to be confused with the verb meaning enter).
Entre la banque et le supermarché, il y a une boulangerie. – Between the bank and the supermarket, there is a bakery.

EN FACE DE
The phrase en face de means opposite (in terms of place, not meaning, which would be contraire).
En face de la boucherie, il y a une pharmacie. – Opposite the butcher’s, there is a pharmacy.

A COTE DE
A cote de/du/de la/de l’/des means next to, or beside.
Il y a un restaurant à coté de la quincaillerie. – There is a restaurant next to the ironmonger’s.

LOIN DE
Loin de/du/de la/de l’/des means far (from).
Est-ce que le cinema est loin d’ici? – Is the cinema far from here?

PRES DE
Près de/du/de la/de l’/des means near (to).
L’hotel est près de la plage. – The hotel is near the beach.

A …………….. DE
The phrase a ………. de/du/de la/de l’/des is used to say how far one place is from another.
Le village est à cinquante kilomètres de Paris. – The village is fifty kilometres from Paris.
Le théâtre est à cent mètres du parc. – The theatre is one hundred metres from the park.

Elizabeth Allen
March 2007

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