French Compound Prepositions: Part 1 Posted by Elizabeth Schmermund on Aug 22, 2016 in Grammar
Prepositions (prépositions) are words or groups of words that show a relationship between one thing and another in a sentence. For example, a preposition might link the location of one object to another (the cat is on the table; le chat est sur la table) or link the time of one event to another event (She arrived after him; elle est arriveé après lui).
Compound prepositions are prepositions that use more than one word. Many compound prepositions are used in French to describe relative physical positions. Here is a list of the most commonly used of these compound prepositions in French:
à coté de next to
à l’arrière de behind
à travers through
au-delà de beyond
au milieu de in the middle of
au fond de in the back of
au coin de at the corner of
au dessus de above
en bas de at the bottom of; below
en dehors de outside
en dessous de under
en face de across from
en haut de at the top of
loin de far from
près de near
These compound prepositions showing relative physical positions can be used in their transitive form, in which an object follows the preposition. For example: La maison est à coté de la mer. (The house is right next to the sea.) Please note that with these compound prepositions the de should change in response to the gender of the noun following it. If the noun is feminine, as in the above example (la mer) the de does not change. If, however, the noun is masculine (like, for example, in le restaurant) then the de becomes du.
You can also use these prepositions in their intransitive form. For example, it’s the next house/c’est la maison à coté.
Next week, we will go over some more compound prepositions that situate time and/or knowledge instead of place.
Can you think of any more compound prepositions that express relative positions?