Teaching a unit on French Prepositions of Location and Giving French Directions or looking to learn them yourself? This post includes tons of French prepositions activities for teaching your French students or for learning them yourself. Be sure to grab your free French Prepositions of Location handouts below!
Common French Prepositions of Location
à droite de – to the right of
à gauche de – to the left of
chez – at someone’s house or office or other location
dans – inside of (something)
dedans – inside
à côté de – on the side of
hors de – outside of (something)
devant – in front of
derrière – behind
entre – between
loin (de) – faraway, far from
près (de) – nearby, near to, close to
au dessous de – below (something)
sous – underneath (something)
sur – on top of (something)
vers – towards
Get free digital and paper versions of French prepositions of location handouts in the World Language Cafe Free Resource Library.
French Prepositions of Location Activities
- When you come into class, hold up an interesting object (a colorful ball, a stuffed animal, etc.). Use the animal to teach the prepositions. Ex. La tortue est sur le pupitre. La tortue est sous la pupitre. Est-ce que la tortue est sur ou sous le pupitre?
- Then, tell students to close their eyes while you hide the object somewhere in class. Have them take turns asking if the object is under, over, inside, etc. Whoever finds the object gets to hide it.
- Students write directions of how to get to a certain location from school to somewhere in your town. In pairs, they take turns talking and figuring out where they end up.
- Have students describe where an object is in your class or school with 5-10 clues and students guess what they’re describing.
- Hold up preposition flashcards and play around the world. 2 students start at one desk and both try to answer the question. Whomever gets it right moves on to the next desk. They try to get back to their original seats.
- Variation: Have a student volunteer place an object over, under, to the side of etc., and as individuals or pairs, students write a sentence describing it. If their sentence is correct, they get a point.
Teaching + Independent Learning Resources
Have you tried Boom Cards yet? They’re amazing! Self-correcting digital flashcards with moveable pieces and sound files. Students love them because they’re fun and teachers love them because they’re easy and effective! Great for mastering prepositions and perfect for homework assignments and in class or distance learning.
These ready-made, colorful flashcards are great for teaching vocab and work well for review games and stations.
Tricky French Prepositions of Location
There are a few tricky French prepositions of location that vary based on their usage.
1. What’s the difference between hors de and dehors?
hors de – outside of (something)
Ex. Le chat est hors de la boîte. (The cat is outside of the box.)
dehors – outside
Ex. Les enfants vont dehors après leur déjeuner. (The kids go outside after their lunch.)
2. What’s the difference between dans and dedans?
dans – inside of something
Ex. Mes clés sont dans la voiture. (My keys are in the car).
dedans – inside
Ex. Après avoir été dehors pendant plusieurs heures, je voulais aller dedans. (After being outside for several hours, I wanted to go inside).
3. What’s the difference between sous and au dessous de? And what’s the difference between au dessous de and en dessous de?
Au dessous de, en dessous de – below
* En dessous de and au dessous de can be used interchangeably.
Ex. Son appartement est au dessous du mien. (His apartment is below mine.)
Ex. Son appartement est en dessous du mien. (same thing)
Sous – under
Le petit enfant a trouvé un monstre sous son lit.
Giving French Directions
When giving French directions, use the vous form (the formal form with the z) when you’re talking to strangers, people who are older than you, your boss, the head of your school, etc.), and use the tu form (informal) when you’re talking to a friend, kid, or someone with whom you are close.
Tourne/Tournez – Turn
à droite – right
à gauche – left
Va/Allez tout droit. – Go straight
jusqu’à – until
le boulevard – the boulevard
la rue – the street
le feu – the stoplight
le stop, le panneau stop – the stop sign
Ex. Pour arriver au cinéma, allez tout droit jusqu’à le feu. Tournez à gauche sur la rue St. Pierre et c’est là.
Remember to grab your free handouts!
Hope these free handouts, explanations, and activities help your students master French prepositions of location.
Nancy RonayneMay 30, 2021 at 10:16 am
Bonjour Sherry! Thank you for this great post about teaching French prepositions. I had never heard of Boom Cards and look forward to checking out the app. One activity that I do for this lesson is to have students make Google Drawings of their homes. I challenge students to use as many of the prepositions as possible to describe the placement of objects in their homes or the proximity of rooms to one other. These descriptions can be in writing, in group conversations, or in a screencast.
Sherry SebestaMay 30, 2021 at 10:21 am
That’s a great idea! Thx so much for sharing. 🙂