À + le = au, à + les = aux, de + le = du, de + les = des (contractions of articles)

With locations, you will use the preposition à = to/in + [a place] and de = from + [a place]. 
See also Using 'à' (to/in) and 'de' (from/of) with cities (prepositions)

However, when followed by the definite articles le or les, these prepositions "contract" with them to form one word.

Look at this summary of the rules:

Preposition + article  Contraction Example
à + le au
Je vais au cinéma. (le cinéma)
à + les aux
Je vais aux États-Unis. (Les États-Unis / USA)
de + le du 
Je viens du marché. (le marché /market)
de + les des
Je viens des Pays-Bas. (Les Pays-Bas / The Netherlands)
 
These don't contract
   
à + la  (no contraction) Je vais à la poste (the post office)
à + l' (no contraction) Je vais à l'hôtel.
de + la  (no contraction) Je viens de la piscine. (the swimming pool)
de + l' (no contraction) Je viens de l'auberge de jeunesse. (the youth hostel)
Listen to these examples :

Je vais au cinéma.
I'm going to the cinema.

Je vais aux États-Unis. 
I'm going to the United States.

Je viens du marché.
I'm coming from the market.

Je viens des Pays-Bas.
I come from the Netherlands.
I am from the Netherlands.

Je vais à la poste. 
I'm going to the post office.

Je vais à l'hôtel.
I'm going to the hotel.

Je viens de la piscine.
I come from the swimming pool.

Je viens de l'auberge de jeunesse.
I'm coming from the hostel.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je viens de l'auberge de jeunesse.
I'm coming from the hostel.


Ils viennent du cinéma.
They're coming from the cinema.


Je vais aux États-Unis. 
I'm going to the United States.



Je vais à l'hôtel.
I'm going to the hotel.


Nous allons à la boulangerie.
We are going to the bakery.


Je vais au cinéma.
I'm going to the cinema.



Je vais à la poste. 
I'm going to the post office.


Je viens de la piscine.
I come from the swimming pool.


Joyeux, joyeux Noël, 
Aux mille bougies, 
Qu'enchantent vers le ciel, 
Les cloches de la nuit.

Happy, happy Christmas!  
To the thousand candles,  
That enchant to the heavens,  
The night bells.


Je viens des Pays-Bas.
I come from the Netherlands.
I am from the Netherlands.


Elle va au restaurant.
She goes to the restaurant.


Je viens du marché.
I'm coming from the market.


à


Marie est à l'école.
Marie is in school.
Marie is at school.


Je vais au bureau
I'm going to the office


Alain va à la maison.
Alain is going home.
Alain is going to the house


de


Ils rentrent du restaurant.
They're coming home from the restaurant.


Q&A Forum 22 questions, 41 answers

I wrote "faire des magasins."

Is that wrong? Perhaps you can't have two infinitives together? I thought faire des was the way to express going shopping.

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Joanne,

The expression is -

" faire les magasins"

I wrote "faire des magasins."

Is that wrong? Perhaps you can't have two infinitives together? I thought faire des was the way to express going shopping.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

how to differenciate between partitif and contracte articles????

Asked 5 months ago

A partitive article is just one instance when you would use a definite article, precceded by de. It contracts like it normally would in other instances:

Donnez-moi les lunettes, svp. -- Give me the glasses, please. (simple definite article)J'ai besoin des lunettes. -- I need glasses. (partitive article: des = de + les)Vous pensez des lunettes? -- Are you thinking of glasses? (normal contraction)

how to differenciate between partitif and contracte articles????

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

How do I type accents, please?

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super star

Hi Dermot ,

Have you had a look at the FAQ’s which has a section on accents?

so, basically, you just press and hold let's say, for example, e. You press e and hold it, four options will appear you can choose any one option according to the sentence.

Even I had a few problems in the start :) but you'll get the hang of it. Eventually...

Many thanks. I’ve now got it!

Dermot

Many thanks. I’ve now got it!

Dermot

How do I type accents, please?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

CA1

How do we know when "de" refers to "from" or partitive article "some"?

For example: "Marie achète du café"

Le café is a location and a drink.

Couldn't this sentence means both "Marie buys a coffee" and "Marie buys from the cafe"?

How do we know when "de" refers to "from" and when it refers to "some"?

Thank you!

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi C,

‘Marie prend un café au Café ‘ would be ‘Marie is having  a coffee in a Café.’

The use of ‘acheter’ can only mean she is a shop and buying some coffee.

ChA0

Think of what makes more sense in the context you, the exam, or the person you are talking with uses it. 

How do we know when "de" refers to "from" or partitive article "some"?

For example: "Marie achète du café"

Le café is a location and a drink.

Couldn't this sentence means both "Marie buys a coffee" and "Marie buys from the cafe"?

How do we know when "de" refers to "from" and when it refers to "some"?

Thank you!

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

JA1

Why not

why not Olivier arrive á la piscine

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi J ,

Olivier arrive à la piscine = Olivier arrives at the swimming pool

Why not

why not Olivier arrive á la piscine

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

JA1

Olivier arrive de la piscine (right)

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi J,

Olivier arrive de la piscine = Olivier arrives from the swimming pool

Olivier arrive de la piscine (right)

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AnnC1

Why is it "nous partirons à la chasse aux friandises rather than "des friandaise"?

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Ann,

It is because the expression is -  'la chasse à quelque chose'

so you can have:

Une chasse à l'homme = a man hunt

La chasse à l'ours = bear hunt

La chasse au trésor = treasure hunt

La chasse aux oeufs Easter egg hunt

etc...

Hope this helps!

 

AnnC1
D'accord. Merci.

Why is it "nous partirons à la chasse aux friandises rather than "des friandaise"?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AnnC1

Can one say passer par le supermarché as well as au supermarché?

Asked 9 months ago

Can one say passer par le supermarché as well as au supermarché?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Are u plannin to add teachin videos for every lesoon?

Asked 10 months ago
GruffKwiziq language super star
Hi Ergun - no, but if there is a lesson which you think would benefit from one, we can try...

Are u plannin to add teachin videos for every lesoon?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

You can ad

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super star
What is your question Ergun?
No

You can ad

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Je viens du pays-bas or je viens des pays-bas. Pays- bas singular or plural?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Mary ,

It is -

je viens des Pays-Bas. (de+les= des).

Hope this helps!

CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
It is 'Les Pays-Bas' , Mary .
Quelle est l’explanation?  J’ai une amie francaise et elle dit— je viens du pays-bas.  M

Je viens du pays-bas or je viens des pays-bas. Pays- bas singular or plural?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Plural Orages

Bonjour RON. I referenced this lesson because I was looking for an answer for the text in the Week 78 B1 writing challenge 'Weather Forcast" 'after a rough night which will likely be punctuated by thunderstorms' = après une nuit agitée qui devrait être ponctuée d’orages,'. I thought it might be from the ponctuée but I think its followed by par not de, I don't see any adjectives or negative sentences.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer
Hi Michael, after conferring with a native speaker, both options are indeed correct:

1) Une nuit ponctuée par des orages
2) Une nuit ponctueée d'orages.

Greetings, -- Chris (not a native speaker).
Sorry , the above goes with the q&a 'article contractions' on the 15 October.
RonC1
Bonsoir Michael, So I ran the English phrase through Collins-Robert online translator as well as google translate. Here are the results, in order: 1) après une nuit agitée qui va probablement être ponctuée d’orages 2) après une nuit difficile qui sera probablement ponctuée par des orages I do not typically use online translation except to get a sense in phrase that I am totally unfamiliar with. One can see from these two phrases the variations in the sense of the phrase as well as the point in question: d'orages, par des orages. I agree with your observation, there is no negation so to me the d'orages doesn't fit. I like the second though, but I am still uncertain if this would be a correct reflection of the translation. Of course, it is possible that both translations are acceptable. Bonne chance et merci.

Plural Orages

Bonjour RON. I referenced this lesson because I was looking for an answer for the text in the Week 78 B1 writing challenge 'Weather Forcast" 'after a rough night which will likely be punctuated by thunderstorms' = après une nuit agitée qui devrait être ponctuée d’orages,'. I thought it might be from the ponctuée but I think its followed by par not de, I don't see any adjectives or negative sentences.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Article contractions

Does de l'orages not contract even if orages is plural. So not "des orages" but "de l'orages." Although on second thoughts its probably "le orages" not "les orages."
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1
Bonsoir Michael, I am curious about the question; I looked at the lesson and do not find a reference example about «orage» or «orages». Orage is msculin, singular for thunderstorm and orages is the pluriel. De l'orage would be correct but de les orages --> becomes des orages in contraction. J'espère que cela vous aiderait.
Bonjour Michae, un orage l'orage (as the contraction of le + orage) de l'orage (as the contraction of de le + orage) des orages à l'orage aux orages These are all the contractions with articles I can think of. -- Chris (not a native speaker)

Article contractions

Does de l'orages not contract even if orages is plural. So not "des orages" but "de l'orages." Although on second thoughts its probably "le orages" not "les orages."

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

à l'épicerie vs chez l'épicerie

On the week 70 writing challenge, A1 level, the question is 'Je vais ____ épicerie." I wrote chez l'épicerie, but it was marked wrong. If one says "Je vais chez le dentist" or "Je vais chez la boulangerie", why would 'chez l'épicerie' be wrong? I don't see a difference. Thanks for the help! Terri
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1
Bonjour Terri, The lesson is about «À + le = au, à + les = aux, de + le = du, de + les = des (contractions of articles) -» and does not cover the use of «chez». While your response seems the correct usage of chez to me, I believe that is the reason that it was not marked correct. Bonne chance,
Ron, thanks so much for your response. That makes sense about it being this particular lesson. Your answer is an encouragement. Think I'll give it another try today! Terri
You use chez when you go "to a person" and à for impersonal locations. For example: Je vais chez le dentiste/le coiffeur/le docteur/etc. But you would say Je vais à la boucherie/au cinéma/à la piscine/etc. because they are all impersonal places. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
SA1
Bonjour Chris, I am not sure I understand, still struggling with French for beginners! We do say, "Je travaille chez moi". So, "I work at my home." So, is it home, or house, it is again a location! So, why not "chez epicerie?"
Je travaille chez MOI -- I work at my place. It's you that is the person. Je vais chez Alice. -- I go to Alice's place. You CANNOT say: "je rentre chez la maison. " because "maison" is not a person. But you CAN say: "je rentre chez moi. " -- Chris (not a native speaker).
SA1
Merci Chris, I think I got it.

à l'épicerie vs chez l'épicerie

On the week 70 writing challenge, A1 level, the question is 'Je vais ____ épicerie." I wrote chez l'épicerie, but it was marked wrong. If one says "Je vais chez le dentist" or "Je vais chez la boulangerie", why would 'chez l'épicerie' be wrong? I don't see a difference. Thanks for the help! Terri

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Can I say "Je vais du cinéma" instead of "Je viens du cinéma" ?

Or: "Je viens au restaurant" instead of "Je vais au restaurant" ?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Bonjour Valentina !

The answer is yes: just like in English, you will use aller and venir depending on where you situate yourself in the context.

I come to the restaurant. (Je viens au restaurant) would mean that the person you're talking to is already at the restaurant and you see yourself as coming towards them for example.

In the case of I go from the cinema, in French you will to add a destination, as always with the verb aller.
For example:
Je vais du cinéma à chez toi. (I'm going from the cinema to your place.)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !
RonC1
Je vais au cinema is I am going to the cinema but Je viens du cinema is I am coming from the cinema. These two articles have different senses and therefore are not interchangeable without changing the complete meaning of the phrase.
Merci, but my question was about verbs, not articles with prepositions. In English, we may say I'm coming to (not from) the cinema and I'm going to the cinema. Is it possible in French?

Can I say "Je vais du cinéma" instead of "Je viens du cinéma" ?

Or: "Je viens au restaurant" instead of "Je vais au restaurant" ?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Can we use Marie est en l'école" in place of "Marie est à l´ecole"

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Anish !

You will never use en in French to express "at", and here are the two possible cases with school:
Je suis à l'école.          I am at school.
Je suis dans l'école.   I am in the school.

See our lesson on en versus dans with locations:
En vs dans with locations (prepositions)">En vs dans with locations (prepositions)">En vs dans with locations (prepositions)">En vs dans with locations (prepositions)

Bonne journée !

Can we use Marie est en l'école" in place of "Marie est à l´ecole"

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Q.

Should I understand that "à" and "de" can be applied to all the verbs depending if you are going to or coming from somewhere or is it so that each verb goes only with one of these prepositions?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Vili ! It applies mainly to the verbs "venir" (to come), "aller" (to go) and "être" (to be), just like in English, and yes you will use either "à" to express "to/in", and "de" to express "from". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Q.

Should I understand that "à" and "de" can be applied to all the verbs depending if you are going to or coming from somewhere or is it so that each verb goes only with one of these prepositions?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

J'aime bien votre réponses quand on pose une question. Trés instruisant! Merci beaucoup.

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Merci beaucoup Mehmet ! Nous faisons de notre mieux :) Bonnes Fêtes et à bientôt !

J'aime bien votre réponses quand on pose une question. Trés instruisant! Merci beaucoup.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

I have never heard "va au" as in "Elle va au restaurant" pronounced "v-au before.

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Debbie ! I've listened to the sentence you're referring to, and it is pronounced [va au]", albeit pretty fast (French native way!), so I understand the confusion here. You are correct that we wouldn't say [v-au] in French :) I've therefore decided to update our audio file. Please let me know if it's better, or I will look into it again :) Merci et à bientôt !

I have never heard "va au" as in "Elle va au restaurant" pronounced "v-au before.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Why à la tomate and similaire

Asked 2 years ago
When describing how food is made or similar do you always use 'au a la' etc instead of 'de'
LauraKwiziq language super star
No, you use "à la / au" when the food is one component of many: for example, une tarte à la tomate. You use "de" when the food is the main ingredient, like jus de tomate.

Why à la tomate and similaire

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Why woudnt it be "devant de la table"?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Monica, Good question. "Devant de la table" is a very literal translation of "in front of the table," and French just doesn't work that way. Devant means "in front of" - the idea of "of" is part of it, so it must be followed immediately by la table. This is also the case for its antonym: derrière la table.

Why woudnt it be "devant de la table"?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

is 'vien' necessarily followed by de

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Diana, It depends on what you're trying to say. When you mean "to come from" or "to have just done something," yes. I'm coming from a restaurant - Je viens d'un restaurant. I just ate - Je viens de manger.
AurélieKwiziq language super star
But in other contexts, you could simply use "venir" on its own: I'm coming to see you - Je viens te voir. He's coming to my house - Il vient chez moi. etc...

is 'vien' necessarily followed by de

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Thinking...