3

Je pars pour Paris

and

Je pars à Paris

I've seen both versions used to say "I am leaving for Paris". Is there a difference between the two versions? Are both correct?

  • Je pars à Paris is always right. Je pars pour Paris sounds like you don't know if you will come back, or even you know you won't come back. Like a French soldier during WWII saying Je pars pour l'Allemagne, adieu mes amis. Or if it's for a long trip, or if you leave the city you've always lived in. It sounds a bit dramatic to me, like if going there is something important with consequences, changing your life. However, it's true that you can hear it in everyday situations for ordinary trips too. – Destal Sep 23 '16 at 21:42
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Both forms are nowadays correct and have mostly the same meaning however partir pour used to be the rule and still is for some grammarians.

The form partir à + destination was considered incorrect when it appeared in the 19th century. You had to say partir pour and aller à. The rationale was partir means to leave a place but à + location implies the destination is part of the action which is only the case with aller.

Partir à is now accepted and common, especially in spoken French. Ref.: Académie Française unless the departure location is also present:

Je pars de Lyon pour Paris is much better than Je pars de Lyon à Paris.

Note that pour can be used whatever the destination while à can't with some kinds of destinations, e.g.:

Partir en Italie / partir pour l'Italie but not partir à l'Italie.

Partir dans les Alpes / partir pour les Alpes but not partir aux alpes / partir en Alpes.

As usual, à+le/les changes in au/aux:

Partir au Pôle Nord / Partir pour le Pôle Nord.

Partir aux États-Unis / Partir pour les États-Unis.

Beware that with many other verbs than partir, pour instead of à might change the meaning of the sentence or just won't be possible:

Je reviens à Paris : I'm coming back to Paris.

vs

Je reviens pour Paris : I'm coming back because of Paris.


J'arrive à Paris : I'm arriving in Paris.

vs

J'arrive pour Paris. : meaningless, or at least doesn't mean the same as the previous sentence.


Je vais à Rio : I'm going to Rio.

vs

Je vais pour Rio : impossible.


You wouldn't use either pour twice like in:

Je pars pour Paris pour une semaine.

Ugly

Je pars à Paris pour une semaine.

Fine, unless you don't like Paris of course ;-)

  • 1
    @Faʁdɔʃɔtɔmatabaʁwɛt Merci, mais je n'ai pour l'instant que 19978 points ;-) – jlliagre Sep 25 '16 at 0:47
  • Ouais désolé, donc félicitations pour ce 20k ;-) – user3177 Sep 26 '16 at 11:31
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partir + destination précise: à

Je pars à Paris, à Venise, à Rome, à Berlin.

partir + direction, objet, ou sans précision sur la destination finale: pour

Je pars pour des vacances, pour oublier, pour ne plus revenir.

Je pars pour Paris, pour le Mexique (mais peut-être vais-je changer de direction en route ...)

En revanche, avec le verbe aller, seul à est possible.

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