What is the difference between 'a' and 'à'?

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French is a hard language. But here is a helpful way of learning the difference between à and a.

'a' is a conjugated form of the verb 'avoir' 

e.g. il a un bateau (He has a boat)

'à' is commonly used as a preposition. Its meaning varies depending on the sentence. It can mean atin, or to

There is, however, a tricky rule. The preposition changes with the noun which follows it.

if the noun that follows the preposition is feminine: ... à la ferme (to/in/at the farm)
if the noun that follows the preposition is masculineà + le = ... au bistrot (to/in/at the pub)
if the noun that follows the preposition is plurialà + les = ... aux jeux (to/in/at the games)

When do I use à?

1. Introducing a location
e.g. Je vais à Londres (I am going to London)
e.g. Nous sommes allés aux toilettes (We went to the toilet) - Side Note: toilettes is plural in French

2. When talking about a point in time
e.g. Elle arrive à sept heures (She comes at seven o'clcock)

3. In terms of possession
e.g. C'est à moi (It is mine) - Side Note: à nous = ours / à eux = theirs ...etc

There are slightly more complex rules but these are the most used examples in the common French language. 

Hope it helps.

Julien P. IB French tutor, GCSE French tutor

About the author

is an online GCSE French tutor with MyTutor studying at Exeter University

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