How do I know when to use 'à' vs. 'de'? French preposition help!

There are various rules in French which can help you to choose the right preposition. Below are the rules for the preposition à.


used to refer to a place.

à la maison; au (à + le) bureau.

- for names of cities: à Londres; à Milan.

- for names of countries of masculine gender and beginning with a consonant/countries in the plural: au (à + le) Portugal; aux (à + les) Etats-Unis.

- for names of islands that have no article: à Madagascar; à Jersey.


used to introduce the objects of verbs which express:

- something being removed: enlever à; voler à; prendre qqch (quelque chose) à qqn (quelqu'un). 

- something being achieved: arriver à; réussir à qqch.

- a movement (real or metaphorical): tourner à; penser à qqch/qqn.


used after an adjective expressing:

- a comparison: supérieur à; comparable à qqch/qqn.

- a behaviour of tendency (to in English): opposé à qqch/qqn; prêt à (faire qqch).


part of phrases expressing:

- a manner: à la main; à voix basse.

- gradation: petit à petit; un à un.

- some forms of transport: à pied; à vélo.


used where English uses compound nouns.

- composition: une tarte aux (à + les) fraises; une soupe aux (à + les) pommes de terre.

- what something is used for: une tasse à thé; une brosse à dents.


My next explanation will follow shortly, with detailed information about where to use ‘de’.

I hope this has been helpful!

See you soon.

Imogen :)

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