How to Use the French Preposition 'Dans'

'Dans' can introduce both location and time

The French preposition dans usually means "in," but, depending on the context, it also has other English equivalents, such as from, through, on, during and off. Dans cannot be followed directly by a noun but rather must be followed by an article or some other determiner. It can indicate a physical location, a figurative location and time. Dans is also required after certain French verbs that take an indirect object.

Physical Location

  •    dans la boîte > in the box
  •    dans la rue > in the street
  •    boire dans une tasse > to drink from a cup
  •    prendre quelque chose dans une boîte > to take something from a box
  •    copier quelque chose dans un livre > to copy something from a book
  •    dans l'avion > on the plane
  •    mettre quelque chose dans le tiroir > to put something in the drawer
  •    monter dans le train > to get on the train
  •    voir quelqu'un dans l'escalier > to see someone on the stairs

Figurative Location

  •    dans la situation actuelle > in the current situation
  •    dans ces conditions > in / under these conditions

Period of Time

  •    dans la journée > during the day
  •    dans la semaine > during the week
  •    dans une semaine > in one week

Verbs with 'Dans'

The French preposition dans is required after certain French verbs that take an indirect object.

  • boire qqchose dans (une tasse) > to drink something out of (a cup)
  • chercher dans (la boîte) > to look in (the box)
  • courir dans (l'herbe) > to run through (the grass)
  • coûter dans (les dix euros) > to cost about (10 euros)
  • entrer dans (une salle, un bâtiment) > to enter (a room, building)
  • fouiller dans (les poches) > to look through (the pockets)
  • lire dans (le journal) > to read in (the paper)
  • manger dans la main à qqun > to eat out of one's hand
  • manger dans l'assiette > to eat off a plate
  • mettre son espoir dans > to pin one's hopes on
  • partir dans (10 minutes) > to leave in (10 minutes)
  • partir dans (les montagnes) > to leave for (the mountains)
  • pleuvoir dans (la France) > to rain in (France)
  • prendre quelque chose dans (une boîte, un tiroir) > to take something from (a box, drawer)
  • regarder dans (la boîte, le frigo) > to look in (the box, the fridge)
  • vivre dans (la misère, la peur) > to live in (poverty, fear)
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Use the French Preposition 'Dans'." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Use the French Preposition 'Dans'. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Use the French Preposition 'Dans'." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).