Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 57): le préposition: en (les usages)


The French preposition en is nearly always used directly in front of a noun, with no article. It can indicate all of the following:

1. location

Il est en prison. He is in jail.
J’habite en banlieue. I live in the suburbs.

2. time

en août – in August
en trois jours – in three days
en semaine – during the week

3. to do something like or as

Je te parle en ami. I’m speaking to you as a friend.
Il agit en enfant. He’s acting like a kid.

4. means

voyager en train – to travel by train
rentrer en taxi – to return by taxi

5. condition or appearance

être en bonne santé – to be in good health
être en guerre – to be at war
être en pyjama – to be in pajamas

6. transformation

traduire en français – to trainslate into French
se déguiser en… – to disguise oneself as…
transformer une salle en bureau – to change a room into an office

7. material

un pull en laine – wool sweater
une maison en brique – brick house

Don’t forget that en is also an adverbial pronoun.

The prepositions en and dans can both be used to express time and location, but their uses are completely different.

En expresses the length of time an action takes. Note that this means the verb is usually in the present or past. 

Je peux faire le lit en 5 minutes. I can make the bed in 5 minutes.

Il a lu le livre en une heure. He read the book in an hour.

J’ai appris à danser en un an. I learned how to dance in a year.

Dans indicate the amount of time before which an action will occur in the future. Note that this means the verb is usually in the present or future. 

Nous partons dans dix minutes. We’re leaving in 10 minutes.

Il reviendra dans une heure. He’ll be back in an hour.

Elle va commencer dans une semaine. She’s going to start in a week.

En is used to express the month, season (except au printemps), or year in which an action takes place. 

Nous voyagons en avril. We travel in April.

Il arrivera en hiver. He will arrive in the winter.

Dans refers to something that occurs within a decade. 

Dans les années soixantes… In the sixties…

En can mean in or to when followed directly by a noun that doesn’t need an article. 

Vous allez en prison! You’re going to prison!

Il est en classe. He’s in school.

Dans means in a location when followed by an article plus noun. 

Il est dans la maison. He’s in the house.

Qu’est-ce qui est dans la boîte? What’s in the box?

En also means to or in with some states, provinces, and countries. 

J’habite en Californie. I live in California.

Je vais en France. I’m going to France.

Dans also means to or in with some states and provinces. 

J’habite dans le Maine. I live in Maine.

Je vais dans l’Ontario. I’m going to Ontario.


One Response to Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 57): le préposition: en (les usages)

  1. DEDE says:


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