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Ultimate Guide To The French Preposition À (+50 Examples)

Ultimate Guide To The French Preposition À (+50 Examples)

How to use the French preposition à

The preposition à in French has several common translations including “at”, “to” and “in”. The French preposition à has a very long list of meanings and has an extremely versatile list of usages. This page will examine the many ways to use à in French and provide examples.

À In French: How to use this extremely versatile French preposition.

Use à to express to or at

The most common usage of the preposition à is to mean “to” or “at” when following the verb aller (to go). When a is followed by le, la, les (the), a contraction must occur. For example, “Je vais au (à + le) magasin” (I go to the store).

This page covering the French articles covers these contractions in detail.

  • Je vais à la plage. I’m going to the beach.
  • Je vais au (à + le) marché. I’m going to the market.
  • Je vais aux (à + les) États-Unis. I’m going to the United States.

Expressing distances

Use the preposition à for expressing distances. The grammatical structure is: à + distance + place.

  • Nous habitons à trois heures de Paris. We live three hours from Paris.
  • Elle habite à vingt-cinq kilomètres de Marseille. She lives 25 kilometers from Marseille.

In certain style or manner

The construction “à la” is used to express in a certain style or manner.

  • Il cuisine à la francaise. He’s cooking French-style.
  • Elle cuisine à l’anglais. She’s cooking English-style.
  • Nous cuisinons à l’italienne. We’re cooking Italian-style.

See you at a certain future time

When preceding a time word such as demain (tomorrow), à translates to “see you”. À can also come before an hour of the day. For example, “À quinze heures!” means “See you at 3.00pm!”.

  • à demain see you tomorrow
  • à plus tard see you later
  • à tout à l’heure see you later
  • à lundi see you Monday
  • à bientôt see you soon
  • à la semaine prochaine see you next week

Ingredients in food items

When preceding a food or flavor, à indicates “having this ingredient”. This page covers food vocabulary in detail.

  • La glace au chocolat Chocolate ice cream
  • Un gateau à la vanille Vanilla cake
  • Une tarte a la framboise Raspberry pie

Wearing clothes or accessories

When à precedes a item of clothing or accessory it means “wearing”, “in the” or “with”. This page covers French clothing vocabulary in detail.

  • L’homme au chapeau noir the man wearing the black hat
  • La femme à la chemise bleue The lady in the blue shirt
  • La fille à la jupe rose. The girl with the pink skirt.

Measurement expressions

When expressing speed, “à l’heure” means per hour.

  • faire du 50 à l’heure To drive 50km per hour
  • acheter au kilo to buy by the kilo

How an item is used

When following crockery or kitchen utensils, à + usage target means “used for”. For example, un couteau (knife) à pain means a “bread knife”.

  • une tasse à thé teacup
  • un bol à soupe soup bowl
  • une assiette à dessert a dessert plate
  • une cuillère à soupe a soup spoon
  • une fourchette à viande a fork for eating meat


When à precedes a person or stressed pronoun (me, you, him, her, etc.), the meaning is “belongs to”. This page covers stressed pronouns.

  • La voiture est à Marc. Marc’s car
  • La maison est à David. David’s house
  • Le livre est à moi. The book is mine.
  • Les skis sont à lui. The skis are his.

Modes of transportation

The preposition à is used for modes of transportation which you don’t climb into. For example, “Je vais à pied” means I’m going by foot. The preposition “en” is used for vehicles. For example, “Je vais en voiture” (I go by car).

  • aller à bicyclette to go by bike
  • aller à pied to go by foot
  • aller à moto to go by motorbike
  • aller à cheval to go by horse

How something is made or done

À + noun is used to indicate how something is done or made.

  • fait à la main handmade
  • écrire au stylo to write in pen

Nouns derived from verbs

À + time word can me “When I _”.

  • à mon retour when I get back
  • à mon arrivée when I return

Giving directions

Use à + right or left when giving directions in a taxi. For example, “Tournez à droite” (Take a right). This page covers taxi phrases. This page covers giving and asking directions.

  • à droite to the right
  • à gauche to the left

Many verbs are followed by à

French has many verbs which are followed by the preposition à. The structure is: “verb + à + infinitive”. For example, “Je continue à étudier” (I continue studying). This page offers a complete list of French verbs followed by à.

  • chercher à comprendre to try to understand
  • aider à to help
  • arriver à to manage to
  • continuer à to continue
  • réussir à to succeed in

Common phrases

The French preposition à can also be found in countless phrases and expressions. While there’s no way to compile a master list, here’s a list of common phrases and expressions with à.

  • à un moment donné at some point
  • à tout prix at all costs
  • à propos de regarding
  • à la fois at the same time
  • à distance remotely
  • à haute voix aloud
  • à emporter take away (meal)
  • à côté next to
  • à travers through
  • à cause de because of
  • à mon avis in my opinion
  • à mon tour it’s my turn
  • à partir de starting from
  • à ce moment-là at that moment
  • à ce propos in this respect
  • à cette époque at that time period

Common expressions

  • à la tienne Cheers!
  • à votre santé to your health!
  • à tes souhaits bless you!
  • à la poubelle get rid of it!
  • à suivre to be continued
  • au feu! Fire!
  • au fait by the way
  • à propos by the way


As you have see, the preposition à in French a very wide variety of meanings and usages. We hope you’ve found this page helpful!

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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