As you know, the list of verbs that require no preposition (e.g., devoir), a specific prepositions (e.g., oublier de, refuser de, hésiter à, inviter à), or change meaning depending on the preposition (manquer à vs de) is long: https://www.thoughtco.com/french-verbs-with-prepositions-p2-1364548

Are there tips or tricks that can help a new learner remember these?


1 Answer 1


There are no rules.

(réf.) Pour ne plus confondre les verbes qui se construisent avec À et ceux qui se construisent avec DE, il n’y a pas de secret: il faut les apprendre par cœur!

Sometimes either preposition is correct; this is true for the verb "continuer", for instance.

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The particular preposition that a given verb calls for must be learned through the practice of reading, a practice the learner should constrain themselves into as soon as possible (gradual increase of the difficulty) and keep to as steadfastly as possible.

Rule for verb that indicate motion

  • from somewhere: DE
    revenir de, partir de, arriver de,
  • to somewhere: À
    revenir à, partir à, arriver à, aller à, se rendre à,
  • place where sb/sth is: À
    être à (Brest, la montagne, l'école), vivre à,

There are certain principles that you will extract from a good dictionnary, such as the TLFi (de, à). However, it is much better to learn by doing as much reading as you can (it is much more interesting and learning becomes much less painful).

  • Note that the choice of the prepositions may also vary locally due to the influence of dialects ("chercher quelque chose"/"chercher après quelque chose", or slangs, or because of social influences. What sounds like a mistake for some, is common for others ("le fils de Jacques"/"le fils à Jacques"). See er.uqam.ca/nobel/scilang/cesla02/Albanemj.PDF
    – drolex
    Nov 28, 2022 at 15:58

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