À côté de, en face de, à l'extérieur de, à l'intérieur de, près de, loin de, au coin de (prepositions)

Look at these sentences:

La boulangerie est près de l'hôtel.
The bakery is close to the hotel.

Je suis à côté de la piscine.
I'm next to the swimming pool.

Je suis à côté du cinéma.
I'm next to the cinema.

The following prepositions are used to indicate relative physical positions of one thing to another.  

Note that the indefinite article de must contract if followed by a masculine article le (du) and the plural les (des)

à côté de  next to
en face de opposite
à l'extérieur de
en dehors de
outside
à l'intérieur de inside
près de close to / near
loin de far from
au coin de by / at the corner of


Case of 
à l'extérieur de versus en dehors de:

- À l'extérieur de means outside in a geographical way, literally out of [something]

La statue est à l'extérieur du parc.
The statue is outside the park.

- En dehors de is more the abstract outside, in the sense of apart from, but can also be used with locations.

En dehors de cela, je pense que c'est une mauvaise idée.
Apart from that, I think it's a bad idea.


Tu vis en dehors de la ville.
You live outside the city.



Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous sommes en face de la boulangerie.
We are opposite the bakery.


Tu es là, en face de moi.
You are there, opposite me.


Tu vis en dehors de la ville.
You live outside the city.


Elle est assise au coin de la cheminée.
She's sitting by the fireplace.


Je suis à côté du cinéma.
I'm next to the cinema.


Je suis à l'intérieur du magasin.
I am inside the shop.



La France est loin des Etats-Unis.
France is far from the United States.


En dehors de cela, je pense que c'est une mauvaise idée.
Apart from that, I think it's a bad idea.


Je suis à côté de la piscine.
I'm next to the swimming pool.


La statue est à l'extérieur du parc.
The statue is outside the park.


Je t'attends au coin de la rue.
I'm waiting for you at the street corner. 


La boulangerie est près de l'hôtel.
The bakery is close to the hotel.


Q&A

Kerry

Kwiziq community member

18 June 2018

5 replies

Can you explain when to use en dehors and just dehors?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2018

19/06/18

Hi Kerry,


dehors means outside, as in: Les enfants jouent dehors. -- The kids play outside.


En dehors refers to the outside as a more tangible place and as such has a clear opposite: en dedans. It can also be used figuratively, though.


As I see it, there are three levels of concreteness in referring to the outside:


dehors -- C'est dehors la question. -- It is out of the question.
en dehors -- L'ennemi se trouve en dehors la cité. -- The enemy is outside the city.
à l'extérieur -- Il faut repeindre l'extérieur du mur. -- One must paint the outside of the wall.


The association with a concrete physical location becomes more tangible from one to the next. But a native speaker would need to confirm that hunch.


-- Chris (not a native speaker).


Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2018

19/06/18

correction: l'ennemi se trouve en dehors de la cité (forgot the "de") -- Chris.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2018

19/06/18

dehors on its own is an adverb, so you use it to say they're playing outside, eating outside etc.


en dehors de is a preposition, so you use that to say outside of something.


"C'est dehors la question" seems wrong to me. I think it should be "hors de question".

Kerry

Kwiziq community member

20 June 2018

20/06/18

Thank you to both of you.


I am getting the feeling for it now!

Kerry

Kwiziq community member

20 June 2018

20/06/18

Thank you to both of you.


I am getting the feeling for it now!

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2018

1 reply

Can you say À l'autre côté de instead of en face de?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2018

18/04/18

Bonjour CrystalMaiden !


No, you cannot say à l'autre côté de, but you could use de l'autre côté de, meaning on the other side of, though just like in English, the meaning is different from en face de (opposite)


Bonne journée !

Catriona

Kwiziq community member

27 March 2018

3 replies

À l'extérieur v. dehors

We were supposed to translate Daniel lives outside the city. I used "à l'extérieur de and it was marked wrong. The explanation was à l'extérieur is used in the geographical sense. To me, something being outside a city is pretty geographical. Also, I checked Linguee and this is what I got. Please note that most of the quotes in this list are from government websites. "https://www.linguee.com/english-french/search?source=auto&query=outside+the+city

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 March 2018

27/03/18

That's a good question and would benefit from the input of a true native speaker. Meanwhile, here is my understanding:


"À l'extérieur" refers to the exterior of something, while "dehors" is "outside of". There are cases where both would be OK but others, where you can't replace one by the other.


"L'extérieur de ta bouche est sale." -- You could not use "dehors" in this context to refer to the perimeter/outside of your mouth.
"C'est dehors la question!" -- It is out of the question! (Here you couldn't use à l'extérieur)


"L'extérieur" refers to a specific place, whereas "dehors" stands more for the outside in general or in a less literal way.


"Tu vis en dehors de la ville." -- You live out of town. (In a general sense)
"Tu vis à l'extérieur de la ville." -- You live on the "outside" of the town (in a more specific sense).


I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Catriona

Kwiziq community member

28 March 2018

28/03/18

Thanks for this, Chris.  If that is correct I think geographical was a poor choice of words to describe the meaning of à l'extérieur in the lesson.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 March 2018

29/03/18

Well.....yes and no. If you take geographical as meaning a well defined place as opposed to a more general notion of "not inside" then it is actually a pretty decent description. But it's hard to hang their difference on one word, geographical or not. :)


-- Chris. 

Jose

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2017

2 replies

Pourquoi pas "devant moi"?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2017

9/10/17

Bonjour Jose,
Let's see if I can explain this one correctly:
The following prepositions are used to indicate relative physical positions of one thing to another.
dans in/inside
sur on/on top of
devant in front of
derrière behind
entre between
sous underneath
Warning: Although the prepositions above are straightforward, in general, the choice of which preposition to use in different contexts varies. You can't translate literally to/from English but you will learn through experience!
The use of «en face de» denotes «opposite» while «devant» denotes «in front of»,. While in some contexts, they do seem to be synonymous, in the case «Tu es là, en face de moi. -->
You are there, opposite me.» I get the sense that the person is possibly sitting across a desk from the speaker.
I imagine that if my response is incorrect that someone from the Kwiziq team will provide a further explanation.
J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait.
Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

To complement Ron's answer:

avant = before in a temporal sense, i.e., earlier.
devant = before in a spatial sense, i.e., in front of.

Il est arrivé avant moi = He arrived before me.
Il s'est assis devant moi = He sat in front of me.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

2 replies

au coin de by / near

Bonjour Aurélie ou Gruff, Alors, j'ai appris qu' «au coin de» traduit comme «at the corner of», mais dans cette leçon-ci la traduction est «by/near». Je ne peux pas trouver cette traduction dans le Collins-Robert. Pourriez-vous me donner l'explication? Merci, Ron

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 June 2017

19/06/17

Bonjour Ron !

"Au coin de" means "by/near" in the expression "au coin du feu" = by the fire.
However, I agree that most of the time, it does mean "at the corner of", as in "au coin de la rue".

I'll now add this missing translation to the lesson.

Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

19/06/17

Merci, Aurélie et bonne journée.

Arash

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2017

1 reply

How to say "across [the street] from"?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

23 April 2017

23/04/17

Hi Arash,

It depends what you want to say. The expression "de l'autre côté [de la rue]" is probably the closest French expression, but if you want to say e.g. X is on the other side of the road from/of Y, then you would use "X est en face de Y".

Hope that helps!

Jim

Kwiziq community member

23 January 2017

2 replies

outside? en dehors de versus à l'extérieur de please explain.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 February 2017

3/02/17

Bonjour Jim !

Thank you very much for this question, which highlighted some confusion in the original lesson.
Indeed, "à l'extérieur de" is the way to express "outside *location*".
Thanks to you, I've updated the lesson to make it much clearer, and address the distinction with "en dehors de".
Please have a look:
https://french.kwiziq.com/my-languages/french/view/3058

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Jim

Kwiziq community member

3 February 2017

3/02/17

Salut Aurélie,
Many thanks for the clarification I needed to understand the nuance and you have helped with that point.
Best wishes,
Alan (Jim)

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

12 December 2016

2 replies

à vs au

Why is it "*à* côté de" but "*au* coin de" ?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 December 2016

12/12/16

Because the definite article "le" is used in the latter and not the former case. And now, of course, you ask, "why"? I am not sure there is a clear answer apart from that's just how it is.... But I await Aurélie's reply.

-- Chris.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 December 2016

13/12/16

Bonjour à tous les deux !

Chris is onto something there: "au coin de" means literally "at the corner of", hence contracted article.
As for "à côté de"... all I can say is that it is a fixed expression to say "next to", not to be confused with "aux côtés de" meaning "by *someone's* side" (note the plural in French).

I hope that helps!
Bonne journée à vous !
I'll be right with you...