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Prepositions

L'expression de la position

Above Au-dessus de In Dans
Across De l'autre côté de In the center of Au centre de
Against Contre In front of Devant
Along Le long de In the middle of Au milieu de
Among Parmi Inside À l'intérieur
Around Autour Inside out À l'envers (intérieur vers extérieur)
At/In the back À l'arrière Near Proche de
At/In the bottom Au fond, en bas Next to À côté de
At/In the rear À l'arrière On Sur
Before Devant On the left (-hand side) À gauche
Behind Derrière On the right (-hand side) À droite
Below Sous On top of Sur
Beneath Sous Opposite En face
Beside À côté de Outside Dehors
Between Entre Round Autour
Beyond Au-delà Under Sous
By Près de Underneath Sous
By the side of Proche de Upside down À l'envers (tête en bas)
Close to Près de Within À l'intérieur de

Attention !

  • Under, Below, Beneath et Underneath ont le même sens, il faut donc les connaître tous les quatre car ils sont tous usités ;
  • Ne pas confondre In front of (≠ Behind) et Opposite (= juste en face de). Ex :
    • In front of the mirror : Devant le miroir.
    • Opposite the post office : Juste en face de la poste.

L'expression du mouvement

Across À travers (à ciel ouvert)
He was able to swim across the river.
Anticlockwise Dans le sens inverse des aiguilles d'une montre
Away Éloignement
Take all these documents away.
Back 1 - Mouvement vers l'arrière
Look back!
2 – Retour au point de départ
When I am back home.
Back and forth Idée de balancement, d’oscillation
• The pendulum is swinging back and forth.
Backward(s) En arrière
• Move backwards!
Clockwise Dans le sens des aiguilles d'une montre
Counterclockwise Dans le sens inverse des aiguilles d'une montre
Down Mouvement vers le bas
He suddenly looked down.
Downward(s) Vers le bas
You can read that list from the top downwards.
Eastward(s) Vers l'est
Forward Vers l'avant
A seat facing forward.
In (≠ Out) Vers l'intérieur
Come in!
Into Mouvement vers l'intérieur
He slipped the paper into his pocket.
Inward(s) Vers l'intérieur
The library faces inwards.
Northward(s) Vers le nord
Off (≠ On) 1 – Éloignement, séparation
It is time I were off.
2 – Interruption
Turn off the TV, please.
On (≠ Off) 1 – Mouvement
Move on!
Mise en marche
He switched on the light.
Out (≠ In) Mouvement vers l'extérieur
She ran out of the room.
Over 1 – Indique le passage
Come over here, please.
2 – Mouvement pour retourner quelque chose
Please turn over.
3 – Au-dessus de (sans toucher)
Clouds over the town.
Past Passage
We drove past the pub.
Rearward(s) Vers l'arrière
Round 1 – Mouvement circulaire
Round the sun.
2 – Changement de direction
Go round the village.
Sideways Latéralement
She was turned sideways.
Southward(s) Vers le sud
Through À travers (passage étroit, pénétration)
Through a tunnel / the jungle.
To Déplacement vers
He went to London this morning.
Toward(s) Vers
I turned toward him.
Up Mouvement vers le haut
I am usually up early.
Upward(s) Vers le haut
We will have to revise our forecasts upwards.
Westward(s) Vers l'ouest

Remarque : À chaque adverbe de mouvement avec le suffixe -ward(s) correspond un adjectif avec le suffixe -ward :

  • Upward : montant / Upward(s) : vers le haut ;
  • Westward : dirigé vers l'ouest / Westward(s) : vers l'ouest.

She ran to the gate.
She stood at the gate.
She walked away from the gate.

I put the money onto the table.
The money is on the table.
The money fell off the table.

The dog jumped into the car.
The dag is in the car.
Take the dog out of the car.

L'expression du temps

On : is used with days and dates (Monday, Thursday ; the 12th of July ; Christmas Day; New Year's Day). I will see you on Tuesday.
She was born on 2 July 1956.
By : is associated with a deadline (Friday ; 20th June ; next week). We will know by the end of the week.
Until (Wednesday ; the 11th ; next month).
In : is used for longer periods (January, March ; summer, winter ; 1993 ; the morning ; the afternoon ; the evening ; half an hour ; 20 minutes). Commerce developed in the seventeenth century.
The stock market boomed in the eighties.
The weather is good in summer.
At : is used with clock times, feast days and certain periods of time (10 o'clock ; the weekend ; night ; noon, midday ; Christmas ; Easter). The train leaves at two o'clock.
We leave a holiday at Easter and Christmas.
I relax at the weekend.
She got married at the age of twenty.
For : refers to a period of time. She is staying here for three weeks.
I worked in Chicago for two years.
During : can be used instead of "in" with periods of the day, months, seasons, years, decades and centuries. Production will begin during September.
During the 19th century Britain was an empire.
It can also be used more generally to indicate that one event occurs while another is taking place.
I will be in Prague during the festival.
Since : is used if we say when something started in relation to the present. I have not seen her since I left the firm.
We have sold 100,000 units since the beginning of the year.
They have been publishing books since 1968.

Prepositions

  • About, after, along, among, at, before, behind, beneath, between, by, down, for, from, in, in front of, into, like, near, next to, of, off, on, out of, over, past, round, since, through, till (until), to (towards), under, up, with, without.
  • Above, across, against, below, beside, beyond, concerning, despite, except, inside, in spite of, opposite, outside.

Prepositions usually come before the words they control. They indicate various relationships between words or phrases, the most usual being those of time, space (position, direction, etc.), and mental or emotional attitudes.

They can also come after the words they govern, notably in questions and in relative clauses.

  • What can I cut the bread with?
  • This is the book I was telling you about.

Many verbs get strongly associated with certain prepositions in one of two ways:

  • verb and preposition keeping their basic meanings ;
  • as a compound having an idiomatic meaning (we cannot guess the meaning from the two parts).