Using dans, sur, sous, devant, derrière, entre to say in, on top of, under, in front of, behind (prepositions)

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 

Now look at these examples:

La lampe est sur le bureau.
The lamp is on the desk.

La boulangerie est dans le centre commercial.
The bakery is in the shopping mall.

Il est devant la poste.
He is in front of the post office.

Je suis assis entre Léa et Tim.
I'm sitting between Léa and Tim.

Qui est derrière toi?
Who is behind you?

Ta chaussure est sous le lit.
Your shoe is under the bed.

 ATTENTION: 

Although the prepositions above are straighforward, 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!

Grammar Note:
Prepositions are words that are placed before a noun indicating the noun's relationship to another word in the sentence. (pre position = place before) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

A cartoon to demonstrate simple pronouns!



Et le vieux monsieur,  Descend vers le village, 
And the old man, 
Goes down towards the village,


dans = in/inside


La boulangerie est dans le centre commercial.
The bakery is in the shopping mall.


derrière = behind


Qui est derrière toi?
Who is behind you?


devant = in front of


Il est devant la poste.
He is in front of the post office.


entre = between


Je suis assis entre Léa et Tim.
I'm sitting between Léa and Tim.


sous = underneath


Ta chaussure est sous le lit.
Your shoe is under the bed.


sur = on/on top of


La lampe est sur le bureau.
The lamp is on the desk.


Q&A Forum 8 questions, 18 answers

LisaB2

in the prepositional phrase, "devant lui", "devant" is the prepositon. What is the name of the part of speech, lui?

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Lisa,

'Lui' in this context is a stress/emphatic pronoun used after prepositions , like after 'chez'.

Take a look at the following Kwiziq lesson for more info:

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/common-uses-of-moi-toi-lui-elle-nous-vous-eux-elles-disjunctivestress-pronouns

Hope this helps!

 

'Lui' is an indirect object pronoun.

LisaB2

So, just like the "lui" when used in the sense of "I gave the apple to him"?

LisaB2

Coucou Cecile!

Thank you so much!  This is an enormous help.  

Lisa

How embarrassing, heh. Thanks for the correct answer. Guess I should review that topic too..

Lisa asked:View original

in the prepositional phrase, "devant lui", "devant" is the prepositon. What is the name of the part of speech, lui?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

GingerA1

When do you use "en face de" vs. "devant"?

For example, I am in front of the school could be: Je suis en face de l'ecole or Je suis devant l'ecole? 

Merci!

Asked 6 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

It's similar to English: en face de -- opposite of, facing, devant -- in front of

Ginger asked:View original

When do you use "en face de" vs. "devant"?

For example, I am in front of the school could be: Je suis en face de l'ecole or Je suis devant l'ecole? 

Merci!

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

asseoir in present continious

It's said "Je suis assis entre Léa et Tim" above.

Firstly; Is there a present continuous form in french?

And why do we use "être" in this sentence?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Murat,

Je m'assois /Je m'assieds is the present continuous form or I am sitting in French. 

Je suis assis ... is I am sat between Lea and Tim ( more the result of sitting down) 

Hope this helps!

asseoir in present continious

It's said "Je suis assis entre Léa et Tim" above.

Firstly; Is there a present continuous form in french?

And why do we use "être" in this sentence?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AnnC1

Have I not seen also au centre ville? Please explain when to use dans la centre ville and au centre ville.

Asked 1 year ago

Hi Ann,

it seems that both "dans le centre-ville" and "au centre-ville" are correct. I cannot find any difference in meaning between them, either.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Have I not seen also au centre ville? Please explain when to use dans la centre ville and au centre ville.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AnnC1

J'ai utilisé dessous mais le correct était sous. Qu'est-ce que c'est la différence?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Ann !

Nowadays, dessous is mostly used as an adverb, not as a preposition, meaning it's not followed with a location.

Its meaning is closer to underneath.

J'ai mis mon verre sous la table.
I put my glass under the table.

J'ai mis mon verre dessous.
I put my glass underneath.
-> Here it's understood that the location has been mentioned previously, so is not repeated.

I hope that helps!

Bonne journée !

J'ai utilisé dessous mais le correct était sous. Qu'est-ce que c'est la différence?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Isn't en interchangeable with dans?

And yet it's a wrong answer.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

No, "en" is not interchangable with "dans". "En" is used in a more general sense to connote the meaning of within. "Dans" is usually quite literally in.

Je suis en classe. -- I am attending a lesson.
Je suis dans la classe. -- I am in the classroom.

Je viens en voiture. -- I come by car.
Je suis dans la voiture. -- I am in the car.

Je suis en prison. -- I am incarcerated.
Je suis dans la prison. -- I am in the prison building (because, maybe, I work there).

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Isn't en interchangeable with dans?

And yet it's a wrong answer.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Dans la douche où sous la douche

J'ai appris que je suis sous la douche. Peut-être je me suis trompé..?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1
Bonsoir Donald, Je l'ai appris «prendre une douche». Alors, regardons de la Dictionnaire Collins-Robert: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- shower (ˈʃaʊəʳ ) noun (for washing) douche f to have a shower or to take a shower --> prendre une douche, se doucher It is also used as an intransitive verb: intransitive verb prendre une douche, se doucher Alors, j'espère que ma réponse vous aidera. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet
Mais Ron, je comprends qu'on prend une douche ou je me douche lorsque je suis sous la douche. Ca veut dire que je ne suis pas dans la douche. Je plaisante. C'est bien d'avoir un endroit où se doucher, se raser et te ravager. Regardez la dictionnaire Collins. Je ris pendant tout le chemin jusqu'a la douche.
RonC1
à re-bonjour Donald, C'est une très bonne plaisanterie bien qu'il y ait deux locutions de plus dans la dictionnaire qui sont, peut-être à propos: 1) (figuratif, familier) ce qui détruit un espoir, un illusion -- rabat les prétentions, ramène au sens des réalités 2) ( vielli et familier) réprimander (ex: Il s'est fait doucher par son père.) Rabbatre l'exaltation de quelqu'un. (Il y avait eu dans sa jeunesse un petit fait qui l'avait douché pour la vie) Merci de m'avoir appris ces deux locutions. Il vous faut d'être au niveau C2 pour connaître ces locutions au-dessus. Je vous souhaite de ne jamais être sous la douche.

Dans la douche où sous la douche

J'ai appris que je suis sous la douche. Peut-être je me suis trompé..?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

I'm sat between Lea and Tim.

I've never in the U.S. heard this. We say I am seated between Lea and Tim. or I was seated between them. Not sure what grammar book uses this expression, I am sat. Never heard it. I sat down is used
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Merci beaucoup Sandra ! The English translation of this example has now been edited :) Bonne journée !
RonC1
It could also be «I am sitting between Lea and Tim.»
To say 'I'm sat between Lea and Tom' may not be grammatically correct but it is commonly used in the UK - must be colloquial!
JayC1
If I say 'I was sat' instead of 'I was sitting' we Brits generally mean that we did not chose our seating place but were asked to sit there by our host/hostess or a seating plan.
LAA1
Americans will use ‘I was seated’ in the same circumstances, as in ‘At the gala, I was seated between Steven and John’.

I'm sat between Lea and Tim.

I've never in the U.S. heard this. We say I am seated between Lea and Tim. or I was seated between them. Not sure what grammar book uses this expression, I am sat. Never heard it. I sat down is used

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Thinking...