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

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.


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



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


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


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

Ergun

Kwiziq community member

7 October 2018

1 reply

Are u plannin to add teachin videos for every lesoon?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

8 October 2018

8/10/18

Hi Ergun - no, but if there is a lesson which you think would benefit from one, we can try...

Ergun

Kwiziq community member

7 October 2018

1 reply

You can ad

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 October 2018

8/10/18

What is your question Ergun?

Mary

Kwiziq community member

11 June 2018

3 replies

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

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

12 June 2018

12/06/18

Hi Mary ,

It is -

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

Hope this helps!

Mary

Kwiziq community member

12 June 2018

12/06/18

Quelle est l’explanation?  J’ai une amie francaise et elle dit— je viens du pays-bas.  M

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

12 June 2018

12/06/18

It is 'Les Pays-Bas' , Mary .

Michael

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

3 replies

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.

Michael

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

Sorry , the above goes with the q&a 'article contractions' on the 15 October.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

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.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

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).

Michael

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2017

2 replies

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."

Ron

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2017

16/10/17

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.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2017

16/10/17

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)

Terri

Kwiziq community member

18 August 2017

6 replies

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 August 2017

19/08/17

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,

Terri

Kwiziq community member

19 August 2017

19/08/17

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 November 2017

6/11/17

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).

s

Kwiziq community member

26 January 2018

26/01/18

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?"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

26 January 2018

26/01/18

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).

s

Kwiziq community member

26 January 2018

26/01/18

Merci Chris, I think I got it.

valentina

Kwiziq community member

1 August 2017

3 replies

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

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

3 August 2017

3/08/17

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.

valentina

Kwiziq community member

3 August 2017

3/08/17

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 August 2017

9/08/17

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 !

Anish

Kwiziq community member

26 June 2017

1 reply

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2017

29/06/17

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:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/prepositions-locations-dans-versus-en

Bonne journée !

Vili

Kwiziq community member

1 April 2017

1 reply

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

7 April 2017

7/04/17

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 !

Mehmet

Kwiziq community member

26 December 2016

1 reply

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

27 December 2016

27/12/16

Merci beaucoup Mehmet ! Nous faisons de notre mieux :) Bonnes Fêtes et à bientôt !
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