According to some sources, à is a preposition which means many things:

to (je vais à la banque)

at (je travaille à deux kilomètres de la maison)

from ( j'habite à dix kilomètres de lui )

like ( je cuisine à la française ) many other meanings.

I have the following doubts:

1)In the second sentence, is it wrong to say, "J'habite de dix kilomètres de lui."

2) Also, I know à + le = au. But my textbook says: Mettez les phrases au pluriel... Why not "Mettez les phrases à (or even 'en') pluriel" (What is the need for the definite article 'le'?)

3) 'à' is also used before (full) verbs for example, "Je vous invite à fêter le Diwali avec moi." But why is it not used before 'prendre' here: "Je préfère prendre du pain"

4) What is the need for 'à' after the verb 'joue'. "Je joue au tennis". Is the verb 'joue' an exception?

  • Prepositions may be the most unreliable class of words when it comes to 1:1 equivalent translations... which is interesting as a comment on how different languages model space and time.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


1) Yes, it's wrong. You can't say j'habite de dix kilomètres...

2) Unlike English, French requires an article before most nouns.

3) There is no simple rule, some combinations require à, some others de and others don't use any. See for example that page

4) See 3)

  • Why is "j'habite de dix kilomètres" wrong? Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 16:21
  • Because that doesn't make sense just like you won't say I'm living from ten kilometers or I'm living out of ten kilometers
    – jlliagre
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 16:45
  • Oh... yes you're right.. I think what I really meant to ask was this: What is the need for "à" in that sentence.. Its translation is : I live 10 kilometres from him" (No translation for "à") Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 16:55
  • Yes, that need to be j'habite à dix kilomètre de chez lui but sometimes the preposition is optional, e.g. j'habite [dans] une grande maison, j'habite [à] Paris...
    – jlliagre
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 17:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.