Could you explain the meaning of à in French?

I know à in French can mean "in", "with", "to". But I don't understand the meaning of "à" in the salutation, clearly.

For instance with à demain, à bientôt.

  • "jusqu'à ce qu'on se retrouve demain/bientôt/plus tard" ? Dec 7 '16 at 6:38
  • I'd say it's the meaning of "to", like in "I'm going to Paris", but with a moment in time instead of a place. You are envisaging somewhere in time. Quick Marty!
    – Destal
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:04
  • Here "à" means "until/till" -> "à demain" = "until tomorrow", "à la prochaine" = "until next time", "à la revoyure" = "until we meet again" (this also supports @Ahalone-zee's claim because originally, "jusqu'à" = "until").
    – MorganFR
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:05
  • Well. Could you comment in english? I have just started to study french.
    – H. Jang
    Dec 7 '16 at 10:23
  • Everything so far has been in English, except for the first comment, which I repeated in my comment.
    – MorganFR
    Dec 7 '16 at 10:26

"à demain" is meaning you will see the other person the next day, and the "à" would probably be translated "to/until".
And I think that "tomorrow" contains its "à" already (tomorrow).

Just a fact:
In my local language (nothern Fr - Picardy) there is a shortenned expression to say "à demain" which is "a dé".

  • "à" does not mean "to" in this context. It means "to" in expressions like "I'm looking forward to tomorrow" -> "j'ai hâte d'être à demain." Also, tomorrow is just a word, it does not contain "to" as a preposition, it's just part of the word, like together or today or toenail.
    – MorganFR
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:21
  • Nicely spotted, "the morrow" is an obsolete English word that means "the day after", "the next day" (French: "le lendemain"). So "tomorrow" probably comes from "to morrow".
    – Destal
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:23
  • @MorganFR Do you have some source that explains it's until and not to? Because to me it makes more sense if it's to.
    – Destal
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:26
  • @SimonDéchamps Unfortunately I cannot really find a source because "until" and "to" are both more widely used in other expressions rather than greetings ("I don't have to work until tomorrow" or "looking forward to tomorrow"). However there are some greetings like "until tomorrow" and "until we meet again" that use "until" (and they are translated using "à demain/la prochaine", and none I've ever heard of using "to". "To tomorrow" is not a greeting. It is however an expression in the likes of "To infinity and beyond!" The "morrow" part is indeed true but "to" does not make it a greeting.
    – MorganFR
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:32
  • duolingo.com/comment/473634 is a start, I guess
    – MorganFR
    Dec 7 '16 at 9:38

À demain est une « formule par laquelle on prend congé jusqu'au lendemain » (Larousse). Comme c'est une formule, l'analyse est possiblement plus difficile et moins productive. Il y a une grande richesse dans l'emploi des prépositions. Dans un syntagme verbal, la préposition à sert généralement à construire un complément du verbe (TLFi). Elle « établit une relation syntaxique qui s'accompagne parfois d'un rapport de but, de moyen, de lieu, de temps, etc. » (Larousse ; voir aussi BDL).

Essentiellement, on a ici une locution/mot-phrase composé d'une préposition (à) et d'un adverbe de temps (demain), employé en interjection. Sous l'angle de la préposition, on le range avec le complément circonstanciel de temps, sous le type qui « marque une durée dont on vise le terme » [+- "marking a period of time for which we seek the conclusion"], comme dans à brève échéance, la préposition se combinant plutôt ici à un adverbe de temps (TLFi, I.E.3 : à bientôt, à demain, à tantôt ; aussi avec la préposition dans dans le parler populaire : à dans quinze jours). En contexte verbal, ce parcours dont procède le moment visé serait la nuance d'avec l'emploi où l'on situe exactement le procès (du verbe) dans le temps (il est arrivé à huit heures) ; mais les nuances abondent et il reste que l'on prend congé en fixant un rendez-vous au lendemain avec cette formule invariable dont l'analyse est surtout théorique, si intéressante...

  • @Hyeongnam Jang If you need any help with this, let me know. Whether that yields in a little while, until then or just a plain see you tomorrow isn't very helpful because à demain is somewhat of a set expression. The prep. à can do a great many things, such as introducing a point in time, for a meeting, or it can stress the duration preceding that but figuring out whether à demain does the latter is more or less insightful. I encourage to take a look at the TLFi entry for à but it could be excruciatingly difficult so look at the "richesse" link for simpler examples.
    – user3177
    Jan 10 '17 at 17:35

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