À vs DE

I'm having the most difficulty with this. Is there trully no tips, rule of thumb or any other indicators whether to use à or de with verbs? I can't seem to just memorise them, because there are so many of them. Each time I feel like the verbe is familiar and it has to be à with it, it turns out to be de. And visa versa. I need some sort of system, anything, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

October 10, 2015


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Prepositions are words which link two related parts of a sentence. In this module, you may get frustrated with the variety of uses for the French prepositions “à” and “de”. Generally speaking, “à” means to, at, or in, while “de” means of or from.

Uses for “à” – à : to / at / in – is a preposition, which is a word which precedes a noun (or a pronoun) to show the noun’s (or the pronoun’s) relationship to another word in the sentence). There is no equivalent English word.

Examples of use:

Location or destination: J’habite à Paris : I live in Paris, Je vais à Rome : I’m going to Rome, Je suis à la banque : I’m at the bank

Distance in time or space: J’habite à 10 mètres de lui : I live 10 meters from him, Il est à 5 minutes de moi : He is 5 minutes from me

Point in time: Nous arrivons à 7h00 : We arrive at 7:00, Il est mort à 100 ans : He died at the age of 100

Manner, style, or characteristic: Il habite à la française : He lives in the French style, un enfant aux yeux bleus : blue-eyed child / child with blue eyes, fait à la main : made by hand, aller à pied : to go on / by foot

Possession: un ami à moi : a friend of mine, Ce livre est à Jean : This is Jean’s book

Measurement: acheter au kilo : to buy by the kilogram, payer à la semaine : to pay by the week

Purpose or use: une tasse à thé : teacup / cup for tea, un sac à dos : backpack / pack for the back

In the passive infinitive: À louer : for rent, Je n’ai rien à lire : I have nothing to read.

October 11, 2015

There is no fixed rule for that, it's really confusing, the only solution to master the use of each one properly is reading, you have to read a lot. Here is a list with the most common verbs followed by à in French.

October 10, 2015

Thank you for the link! I am planning to read only in French starting 2016. Any good book you could recommend?)

October 11, 2015

I'm reading Harry Potter. I have the kindle version on my iPad and can use the dictionary to help with the unintelligible parts. I haven't read it in English so it's a bit of a challenge but worth the effort. I picked up somewhere that it would be regarded as an intermediate level. There is of course, vocabulary which is not widely used these days in common speech, such as broomsticks and wizards, but it's a fun book and I'm half way through. When I've finished I intend to read it again and also try and get the talking version to follow along with.

October 11, 2015
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