I wonder how to know which preposition to use. In this case whether to use en or dans.

  • 3
    If you're trying to say "I speak English," just say "je parle anglais," with no preposition. "En anglais" would be "in English," and "dans anglais" would be something like "inside English" and would be completely nonsensical. Jan 19 '20 at 6:53
  • @temporary_user_name it's not nonsensical. "I am speaking in English" is perfectly valid. Nobody said about inside English as dans can also be used as inThere or over 90000 results for that. google.com/…
    – mjosh
    Jan 21 '20 at 13:43
  • 1
    @mjosh In English yes, but “dans” is “in” in a physical sense, whereas “en” is more “in” in the sense of a medium (among other senses). Distinguishing between these nuances (and realizing that word-for-word translation is very often insufficient) is very important.
    – Maroon
    Jan 21 '20 at 15:40

No, you can't, as another member commented, this would mean "I'm speaking inside English".

What you can say:

  • "je parle en anglais": a typical situation where you say this would be that you are actually speaking English with someone, and somebody else asks you what language you are speaking. So it's more of a description of a continuous action that is taking place.

  • "je parle anglais": this would be used more as a general statement, eg. "What languages do you speak?" "Je parle anglais, français, espagnol"; or if you want to tell someone you know English.

That is the theory, in practice you can use "je parle anglais" to describe the current action that I was talking about in the first point. ("Oh, tu parles quelle langue là ?" "Je parle anglais")

This is not true the other way around: if you answer "je parle en anglais" when someone asks you what languages do you speak, they will understand but identify you immediately as someone who doesn't speak proper French.

  • Isn't in English one says - I am speaking in English
    – mjosh
    Jan 21 '20 at 13:39

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