What does "a" means in French?

"A" comes from the verb avoir (to have) conjugated at 3ᵉ person of the singular.

It can be found in front of a singular subject or in front of the subject pronouns: "il", "elle" and "on" (he, she, we).

It may be followed by a past participle, a noun or a nominal group.

For example :

  • Il a un pull rouge. (He has a red sweater.)
  • Elle a 28 ans. (She is 28 years old.)
  • On a acheté une maison. (We bought a house.)


What does "a" means in French?



What does "à" means in French?

"À" is a preposition of place and time. It also accompanies certain verbs (such as talking to someone).

It can be followed by a place, a tense, a common noun, a proper noun or a noun group.

For example

  • Je vais à Paris cet été. (I'm going to Paris this summer.)
  • Elle part à 13 heures. (She leaves at 1 p.m.)
  • J'ai téléphoné à ta mère. (I phoned your mother.)


What does "à" means in French?



How do I know whether to write "a" or "à" in French ?

To find out if I should write "a" or "à", I replace "a" or "à" with "had".

"avait" is the verb avoir (to have) at 3ᵉ person in the singular (il / elle / on), but in the imparfait. 

"avait" has the same function as "a" except that it is conjugated with the imparfait.

Immediately, by making this change, you will see that the sentence is correct or false.

Of course, if the sentence is wrong it is because you should put "à" and not "a".


For example :

Example 1 :

Il à trois enfants or Il a trois enfants ?

➔  Il avait trois enfants. ✅

If I can say "avait" instead of "à" or "a", then it is the verb avoir (to have), so I put "a".

The correct sentence is : Il a trois enfants. ✅


Exemple 2 :

Je vais à la piscine or Je vais a la piscine ?

Je vais avait la piscine. ❌

The sentence is not correct, so it is "à" that should be put.

The correct sentence is : Je vais à la piscine. ✅


How do I know whether to write "a" or "à" in French ?



Did you understand? Are you sure?

To check that you have understood the difference between "a" and "à", I suggest a few exercises. 

Give your answer as a comment so that I can correct you 😉


Complete the sentences with "a" or "à":

1) Il __ besoin d'aide.

2) Elle va __ la boulangerie.

3) J'ai oublié d'aller __ la pharmacie.

4) Le chien __ peur de l'aspirateur.

5) Il est ___ l'hôtel pendant 4 jours.

6) Elle n'___ jamais été ___ Paris.

7) Il y ___ beaucoup de monde aujourd'hui.

8) Amandine ___ adoré son séjour en Italie.

9) Ce blouson est ___ Julie, elle l'___ oublié chez moi.

10) Il fait souvent une pause ___ midi. 


The difference between "a" and "à" is now no longer a secret for you. 

Don't forget to test your understanding of the article by doing the test above. Share your result as a comment! 

⬇️ ⬇️

See you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷