French Prepositions of Place

Instructor: Shauna Mingus

Shauna teaches high school French and has a bachelor's degree in French and English education.

Learn to use French prepositions of place to talk about where people or things are located. In this lesson, we'll learn to use ten words and expressions, like 'on,' 'between,' 'to the left of,' and 'under,' to describe location.

What are Prepositions of Place?

Back before telephones, people sometimes used smoke signals to communicate locations of ships, people, and other things. Today, however, it's much more practical to use words in everyday communication. Prepositions of place are the key words that help you do that.

Let's turn to Matthew to get a better idea of prepositions of place. Matthew was at school when he realized he had forgotten to bring his lunch. He called his mother, Hannah, to see if she could find it and bring it to him. Because Hannah and her son were not face-to-face, he had to give her verbal directions over the phone instead of showing her where his lunch was. Here's how their conversation went:

  • Matthew: I think I left it in the kitchen, on the table.
  • Hannah: I'm looking, but I don't see it.
  • Matthew: Okay, check to the left of the front door. Is it beside the shoes?
  • Hannah: No. I'll check your bedroom.
  • Matthew: Okay, look under the bed.
  • Hannah: Under your bed? Why would it be there? No, I don't see it, although now I know where the box of cookies went!
  • Matthew: Nevermind. Go downstairs and look to the right of the TV, or look between the cushions on the couch.
  • Hannah: I can't find it anywhere! Did you leave it on the bus this morning?
  • Matthew: No, but I might have forgotten to make my lunch this morning. Would you be able to buy me a burger and fries and bring them to me? And don't forget the ice cream sundae!

Common French Prepositions

Although Hannah didn't find the missing lunch, she and Matthew used several different prepositions of place in their conversation in order to clarify an object's location. Let's take a look at some of these words in French:

  • dans: in
  • sous: under
  • entre: between
  • derrière: behind
  • devant in front of
  • sur: on

Talking About Place

Now, let's look at some examples of these common French prepositions being used to talk about location.

  • Le déjeuner est dans le frigo. The lunch is in the refrigerator.
  • Les livres sont sous le sofa. The books are under the sofa.
  • La fille est entre ses parents. The girl is between her parents.
  • Qui est derrière la porte? Who is behind the door?
  • Est-ce que le chien est sur ton lit? Is the dog on your bed?

The dog is on the bed.
dog on bed

Prepositions That End with de

The following four expressions also act as prepositions of place.

  • à droite de: to the right of
  • à gauche de: to the left of
  • à côté de: beside
  • en face de: opposite

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