à means -"at" "of" in" "to"

de means "of" and "from"

en means "in"

dans means "in" "inside of" "to"

sur means "at / out of / on top of / and when referring a city name it means "in" e.g sur Paris but interesting thing is, despite this they call Bordeaux as "à Bordeaux" and if i want to say "a forest in France" translated as "une forêt en France"

And when does à turn into dans?

je vais à ma maison (i'm going to my home) / je vais dans me chambre (i'm going to my room) is it because my room inside of my house?

  • 5
    It is impossible to learn a language like this. You have to go step by step and not just try and translate all the prepositions like this. First lesson: I'm going to my house.=Je vais chez moi. And one preposition does not "turn into another". I suggest you take a beginner level course. The structure of French is very different from English....
    – Lambie
    Oct 18, 2020 at 16:59
  • don't suggest people choose the way everyone goes. this is my way of learning, none of your business. anyway i knew it was je vais chez moi but then where's the preposition? je vaiz (i'm going) chez moi (home) i'm going home. where's to/my?
    – frencholic
    Oct 18, 2020 at 17:47
  • 1
    chez means: to or at the home/house of x. chez does not take a preposition in French. And in English, I'm going home doesn't take a preposition either. She is at home. Elle est chez elle.
    – Lambie
    Oct 18, 2020 at 18:02
  • in english, you can say i'm going to my own home if you want. it's up to you. english anarchist to me. french... both. and thanks i didn't know about chez.
    – frencholic
    Oct 18, 2020 at 19:08
  • 1
    Your question is not focused on a well defined point; all the problems you raise take several explanations. That is not the way the FSE works; go at it a bit at a time, one precise pint per question. You can post 30, 50 questions during a single day, there is no limit on that; however they have to be about a single point (one or two closely accessory and simple points can be mentioned but not more).
    – LPH
    Oct 18, 2020 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


It is not as trivial (or simple) as that. I'll take your example, usually the verb aller is followed by à, that's why on va à la maison, à l'école, au (à le) travail. As for sur France, I've never heard of such construct.

en may mean also on, Je suis en route which means I'm on my way.

It all depends on the context.


The finding of appropriate equivalents of French equivalents for English prepositions present considerable difficulties, as the prepositions of both languages have great variety of senses, and they rarely coincide. E.g., pour can convey in a number of cases for, but in a number it does not do so. On the other hand, for is not always the English counterpart of the French pour. By careful reading and increasing practice you will acquire a true feeling of the various French prepositions. Try to learn them as set constructions and do not try to think through the English equivalent.

Consider about for instance. About has at least six meanings in English (approximately, concerning, around, up and down, of, just going to). Each of them may be conveyed by different French prepositions or expressions. For example,

Speak about an event = parler d'un évévenement

he was about to leave = il était sur le point de partir

he arrived about noon = Il est arrivé vers midi

and so on. You mentioned in. In (and into for that matter) cannot be conveyed by a single French preposition, as indicated by the following representative examples:

In an arm-chair = dans (!) un fauteuil.

In peace, in prison, in town = en paix, en prison, en ville

in Paris, in France, in Mexico, in Usa = à Paris, en France, au Mexique, aux aux États-Unis

I suggest that you consider seriously the comments of users @Lambie and @LPH. If you are a learner that prefers to learn in a systematic way then a grammar book like 'A French Reference Grammar' by H. Ferrar would be useful. Another jewel is 'English Grammar for Students of French; a better understanding of English grammar (your own, I suppose) will give you a better understanding of French grammar too.

FSE contains a wealth of information. E.g.

  1. Ways to learn grammar innately?

  2. Official grammar

  3. French grammar resources without technical grammar terminology


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