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Translating "into" into French

Hi, could someone please explain why "dans" and "en" are used respectively in the following two sentences where we'd use "into" in English? Is there an underlying reason or a way to remember which to use?

"La sorcière transforme l'oiseau en une fille." (The sorcerer transforms the bird into a girl.)

"Il voyagerait dans le passé avec la machine à remonter le temps." (He would have traveled into the past with the time machine.)

Thank you in advance!

April 28, 2020



It has to do with the verb. Some verbs take this or that preposition according to the meaning, other verbs will take only that one.
Transformer takes the preposition en. Voyager can take dans or en (or sur (?) or à) depending on what is following.


'Sur' wouldn't really work in the context of voyager, as it means 'on'.


we use 'dans' only if we speak of a place, for example 'je vais dans ma chambre' or 'je mets la chemise dans l'armoire'. 'En' is also used for geographic places, for countries, like 'je vais en Allemagne', but you have to be careful because for cities we use the preposition 'à', like 'mes amis sont allés à Paris'. But there are more precise rules to use for places. To be sure I recommend you to search them on the internet.


interesting question. I will look INTO it

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