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

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

How to use the French preposition de

The preposition de in French (pronunciation: də) means both of and from. De is one of the most widely used preposition in the French language. This page provides a complete list of its usages with example sentences.

French preposition de: Complete guide to meaning and usges

De French pronunciation

The pronunciation of de sounds like “duh” in English. Furthermore, de in French rhymes with je (I). This page on Forvo offers several audio samples.

List of usages of de in French

De is used to expression possession

De can be used to express possession. C’est la maison de Claude, for example, means “It’s Claude’s house”.

  • La voiture de Jacques Jacques’ car
  • La maison de Marie Marie’s house
  • Le vélo de Jean Jean’s bike

Possession can also be expressed with possessive adjectives. For example, C’est sa maison (It’s his house. This page on our site covers possessive adjectives in detail.

Another way to expression possession is to use the construction être à + person. For example, La maison est à Marie (It’s Marie’s house). We cover this rule on our être (to be) page.

What something holds

The construction noun + de + noun is used to express the holding of a substance. For example, Je tiens une tasse de café (I’m holding a cup of coffee).

  • Une tasse de café a cup of coffee
  • Un bol de soup a bowl of soup
  • Une assiette de fromage a plate of cheese
  • Un verre de vin a glass of wine
Preposition de in French example

This differs from the construction noun + à + noun, which is used to express “is used for” or “serves as”. For example, une tasse à thé (a tea cup), meaning a coup used for drinking tea.

Partitive article – when contracted

The French partitive article is used to express “some” and is often used when talking about food.

Essentially, it’s formed by contracting de with the definite article (le, la, les) that precedes the food name. We cover the partitive article in detail on our articles pages. Here are some examples:

  • du fromage some cheese
  • de la crème some cream
  • des pommes some apples

Expression of origin

The preposition de is used to express origin. For example, Je suis de France (I’m from France) or Je suis du Canada (I’m from Canada).

  • l’avion de Paris the plane from Paris
  • Elle est de Lyon. She’s from Lyon.
  • Je suis des États-Unis. I’m from the United States.

Context of time

The preposition de is used in several time expressions. À partir de means “starting from” and the construction de…à means “from…to”.

  • À partir de demain Starting from tomorrow
  • De six heures à quatorze heures from 6 o’clock to 2 o’clock

Translates to of

De is often used as a direct translation of “of” in English. Here are several examples.

  • Je suis fier de toi. I’m proud of you.
  • La fin de la journée The end of the day
  • Le premier jour de la semaine. The first day of the week.

Distinguishing labels

De is often frequently used in the names of places, businesses and departments. Here are some examples.

  • La banque de commerce the trade bank
  • La faculté de droit law department
  • Le bureau de poste post office

By means of

De can also means “by means of” or simply “with” in English. For example:

  • Écrire de main gauche to write with the left hand
  • Pousser du pied to push with the foot

What a thing is for or how it’s described

One of the most common uses of de is to provide more information about a noun or how the noun is used. For example:

  • La classe de français French class
  • La raquette de tennis tennis racket
  • La voiture de sport sports car
  • Le numéro de téléphone telephone number
Example of the preposition de in French

Avoir expressions

De is used in a number of expressions which require the verb avoir (to have). For example, J’ai besoin de la voiture (I need the car).

  • Avoir envie de to want
  • Avoir peur de to fear
  • Avoir besoin de to need
  • Avoir honte de to be ashamed of

Verbs are followed de

In French, many verbs are followed by de. For example, Je refuse de partir (I refuse to leave). This page offers a complete list of French verbs followed by de.

  • Accepter de to accept
  • Décider de to decide
  • Demander de to ask
  • Refuser de to refuse
  • Penser de to think of
  • Parler de to talk about

Time expressions

The preposition de can also be fount in many time expressions.

  • De temps en temps from time to time
  • De bonne heure early
  • De nos jours nowadays
  • D’abord first of all

Faire expressions and activities

De often follows the verb faire (to make, to do) names of hobbies and activities. This page offers a comprehensive list of faire expressions.

  • Faire du stop to hitchhike
  • Faire du mal to hurt
  • Faire du vélo bike riding
  • Faire du ski skiing
  • Faire de la voile sailing
  • Faire de la moto motorcycling
  • Faire des études to do one’s studies

Compound prepositions

The preposition de can also be found in many advanced compound expressions. For example:

  • À cause de because of
  • Au milieu de in the middle of
  • Auprès de next to
  • Le long de along

Further your learning
Prepositions in French can be very challenging, even for advanced students. For this reason, we suggest taking a look at the prepositions chapter (Chapter 21) in the book Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One.

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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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