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 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.


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


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


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



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.


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

Dermot

Kwiziq community member

23 January 2019

1 reply

How do I type accents, please?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 January 2019

24/01/19

Hi Dermot ,

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

C

Kwiziq community member

9 January 2019

1 reply

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!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

10 January 2019

10/01/19

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.

J

Kwiziq community member

9 November 2018

1 reply

Why not

why not Olivier arrive á la piscine

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 November 2018

11/11/18

Hi J ,

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

J

Kwiziq community member

9 November 2018

1 reply

Olivier arrive de la piscine (right)

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 November 2018

11/11/18

Hi J,

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

Ann

Kwiziq community member

25 October 2018

2 replies

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

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 October 2018

26/10/18

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!

 

Ann

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2018

26/10/18

D'accord. Merci.

Ann

Kwiziq community member

25 October 2018

0 replies

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

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

2 replies

You can ad

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 October 2018

8/10/18

What is your question Ergun?

Harith

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2018

27/10/18

No

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).
Let me take a look at that...