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Prepositions

£14.95

Prepositions – all those little words in English like in, out, up, down, over, under, to, from and so on – can de devilishly difficult to translate into French. You do not meet the French on the train, you meet them in the train; the French do not go out in the rain, they go out under the rain. Their roads do not have bends for three kilometres, then have bends on three kilometres. For these, and a hundred and one other reasons, French prepositions can be very difficult indeed, from their English counterparts. Hence this little book. It is an invaluable guide to the mysteries of prepositions in French. And it is the only one of its kind on the market.

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Prepositions – all those little words in English like in, out, up, down, over, under, to, from and so on – can de devilishly difficult to translate into French. You do not meet the French on the train, you meet them in the train; the French do not go out in the rain, they go out under the rain. Their roads do not have bends for three kilometres, then have bends on three kilometres. For these, and a hundred and one other reasons, French prepositions can be very difficult indeed, from their English counterparts. Hence this little book. It is an invaluable guide to the mysteries of prepositions in French. And it is the only one of its kind on the market.

 

Prepositions

Chapter One: So what’s the problem?

I said that prepositions in French can be tricky.  To illustrate, I want you now to complete the following 20 questions quiz: decide whether the preposition in each French question is right or wrong:

 

Right   Wrong
Q1 I met my girlfriend on the train, ie

J’ai rencontré ma copine sur le train

 

Q2 I went out in the rain, ie

Je suis sortie dans la pluie

 

Q3 Bends for 3 kilometres, ie

Virages pour 3 kilomètres

 

Q4 I am going to France, ie

Je vais au France

 

Q5 I am going to Canada, ie

Je vais en Canada

 

Q6 My father is going to Paris, ie

Mon père va en Paris

 

Q7 Roadworks for 5 kilometers, ie

Travaux depuis 5 kilomètres

 

Q8 I have lived in London for two years (and    I am still here), ie

J’habite Londres pour deux ans

 

Q9 I am going out in the snow, ie

Je sors sur la neige

 

Q10 My brother is next to me, ie

Mon frère est proche de moi

 

Q11 The cat is under the table, ie

Le chat est à côté de la table

 

Q12 My father is in his workshop, ie

Mon père est dans son atelier

 

Q13 The fridge is in the kitchen, ie

Le frigo est à la cuisine

 

Q14 I live in Ireland, ie

J’habite dans Irelande

 

Q15 The case is on top of the wardrobe, ie

La valise est par l’armoire

 

Q16 France is in crisis, ie

La France est dans la crise

 

Q17 Darling, your dinner is in the dog!, ie

Chérie, ton dîner est sur le chien

 

Q18 I often think of him, ie

Je pense souvent de lui

 

Q19 What did you think of the film?, ie

Qu’est-ce que tu as pensé au film?

 

Q20 I was at the match, ie

J’ai assisté du match

 

  TOTAL      

So how did you score?  Did you reckon they were:   all right?

15-19 right?

10-14 right?

5-9 right?

1-4 right?

Answer?  Well, they were all wrong.  Yes, all wrong!

Answers to the quiz

  1. dans le train
  2. sous la pluie
  3. sur 3 kilomètres
  4. en France
  5. au Canada
  6. à / sur Paris
  7. sur 5 kilomètres
  8. depuis deux ans
  9. sous la neige
  10. à côté de moi
  11. sous la table
  12. à son atelier
  13. dans la cuisine
  14. en Irelande
  15. sur l’armoire
  16. en crise
  17. dans le chien
  18. à lui
  19. du film
  20. au match

I do not propose going through all of these examples, but some really are noteworthy:

 

Q1       We would say on the train.  But if you translate on with “sur” you would be saying that your girlfriend is on top of the train!

Q2       In the rain?  No.  Frogs say “under” the rain – which is really quite logical, I feel.

Q4       It is en France because France is la France.

Q5       It is au Canada because Canada is le Canada.

Q6       En Paris?  No.  When going to any city it is always “à” wherever.

Q8       If you are still living in London, you need depuis not “pour”.

Q10     “Proche” means close, not “next to”.

Q12     Here is a really tricky one.  If someone (or something) is somewhere temporarily, then you need “à”.

Q13     But if it is there permanantly, you need “dans”.

Q18     I have already said that penser à is required when you are thinking about someone (or something)…

Q19     … whereas penser de is what you need when expressing an opinion.

Q20     The French verb for “to be present at” whatever is assister à not assister de.

So there you have it!  Literal translations often do not work at all – and you have to find the preposition that fits the bill.  This means knowing how Frogs verbally use prepositions.

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