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Could you please explain to me the differences between these, and also give me some examples? Thanks in advance.

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The difference in meaning is between participer à (that changes to au / à la / aux according to the following word), and participer de.

Participer à is a synonym of prendre part à (to take part in).

  • Des milliers de personnes ont participé à la « marche pour les sciences ».

  • J'ai participé au concours de photos.

à le is never said or written, it is always contracted into au.

  • Les femmes ne pouvaient pas participer aux Jeux Olympiques dans l'Antiquité.

à les is never said or written, it is always contracted into aux.

Participer de can be replaced by tenir de or appartenir à. It means "to be similar in nature to".

  • Le mulet participe de l'âne et du cheval.

which most people would probably phrase as: " Le mulet tient de l'âne et du cheval" since participer de is rarely used in French.

  • L'amour participe de l'âme même. Il est de même nature qu'elle. (Victo Hugo, Les Misérables)
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"Participer à" means to "participate in." this phrase would refer to a noun, like participating in some event. Example: Je participe à la danse.

"participer au" means to "participate in the" Example: Je participe au festival.

"au" is "à" + "le." It is also changed for "les" becoming "aux"

"participer de" means to "participate in" refering to a verb/activity. Example: Je participe de courir.

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    ‘Je participe de courir’ sounds really strange. Where do people use this sort of sentence construction? – ﺪﺪﺪ Apr 24 '17 at 1:38
  • @Feelew that's how my friend Mèlanie says things. – cbeen Apr 25 '17 at 2:41
  • I believe it might be a very local way of phrasing this. Where is she from (approximately)? I don't think I've ever heard this specific structure. My only encounters with participer de were in writings, and in the vein of what Laure described. – ﺪﺪﺪ Apr 27 '17 at 1:05
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Apart from their meaning, perfectly explained by Laure above, you should keep in mind that 'participer de' is hopelessly outdated, while 'participer a/au' is still in abundant daily use.

  • I wonder if it would not be more precious than outdated. After all, words like ‘firmament’ or ‘derechef’ are well alive, though rarely heard in real life conversations. ‘Participer de’ is indeed rather scarcely used, but I feel like its meaning is clear and its use elegant whenever I see it. – ﺪﺪﺪ Apr 27 '17 at 1:12
  • Using outdated expressions in conversation is one of the principal symptoms of preciousness (or foreign status..). So if that's the impression you want to convey, by all means participez de tout ce que vous voulez. I just think the innocent should be warned. – user13512 Apr 28 '17 at 18:11
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    There are better ways to warn the "innocent" than to claim something is "hopelessly outdated". Les déclarations péremptoires et l'excès dans les formulations peuvent aussi transporter d'autres types d'informations. Les utiliser peut par exemple donner à penser que la discussion sera difficile ou inutile, ou que les informations sont peut-être correctes et utiles, mais à confirmer ailleurs. En vous priant de ne pas le prendre mal (I'm only saying what I felt when I read your wording, not an absolute truth). – ﺪﺪﺪ Apr 28 '17 at 18:28

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