How To Express Location In French

Written byAmélie Pinon

Expressing location in French involves a set of nuanced rules that may seem trickier than in English.

This article aims to simplify these rules by breaking down the use of the French prepositions dans, en, and à.

All three can be used to express “in,” but each has very specific applications.

1. Dans: Inside or Known Location

Dans is used when referring to being inside or within a known location.


Je suis dans la ville.

I am inside the city.

Mon portefeuille est dans ma poche.

My wallet is inside my pocket.

2. À, Au, À l’, À la, Aux: General Location or Location without Boundaries

À, in its various forms, signifies being at a general location or a location without clear boundaries.


Je suis à la campagne.

I am in the country.

Je suis à la montagne.

I am at the mountains.

3. En: Specific Usage

En is used for a specific location.


Le voleur est en prison.

The thief is in jail.

Where and when to use French prepositions

The table below provides a useful guide on where and when to use each preposition, based on the nuances of location, as well as the gender and number of the location noun.

Location Nuance Cities Feminine countries/locations, or masculine locations starting with a vowel Masculine locations not starting with a vowel Plurals
In à en au aux
To à en au aux
From de (d’) de (d’) du des

Sample sentences

Here are some example sentences demonstrating the application of these prepositions.

Nous sommes à Paris.

We are in Paris.

Ils viennent de Londres.

They come from London.

Ils arrivent en Espagne.

They arrive in Spain.

Vous vivez en Suisse.

You live in Switzerland.

Nous partons au Canada.

We leave for Canada.

Je viens du Mexique.

I come from Mexico.

Ils ont attéris aux Bahamas.

They have landed in the Bahamas.
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How To Express Location In French
Expressing location in French is more difficult than in English, and the different nuances are expressed through different rules.
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