French Language Blog

Where Does The French Muffin Man Live? Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Grammar

Il habite Chemin de Drury.

I incorrectly said where I lived many times when I was learning French. The most important thing to remember is that it is not habiter à. En fait (in fact), the most common way to say where you live, when talking about a particular street, is to not use a preposition.

I live on Victor Hugo Street
J’habite rue Victor Hugo

Where things start to get complicated is in all the variations that are also said.

J’habite dans la rue Victor Hugo.

But if you just say :

J’habite la rue Victor Hugo

Un quartier (a neighborhood) is implied rather than just la rue (the street).

The rules can change too if it’s not une rue or une avenue, but instead une place (a public square).

J’habite place François Rabelais.
J’habite la place François Rabelais.
J’habite sur la place François Rabelais.

To make things more complicated, here’s how to say which numéro (number).

J’habite 8 rue Victor Hugo.
J’habite au 8 rue Victor Hugo.
J’habite au 8 de la rue Victor Hugo.
J’habite au n°* 8 rue Victor Hugo.

*n° is a common abbreviation for numéro.

But not …au 8 de rue Victor Hugo.

All this confusion comes from the fact that habiter is transitive and intransitive à la fois (at the same time). That means habiter can convey the same meaning with or without a preposition.

En anglais, when you want to say where you live, to live is only intransitive. La phrase (the sentence) “I live Victor Hugo Street” does not mean the same thing as “I live on Victor Hugo Street“. Cependant (however), en françaisJ’habite rue Victor Hugo” and “J’habite dans la rue Victor Hugo” mean the same thing! While there are small nuances with the use of prepositions it’s easier to remember to avoid them when telling people where you live.

After that, you just have to remember how to tell people which floor you live on!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.