The French Preposition 'Sans': How to Use It

Want to take a trip with lead-free, additive-free gas? Use 'sans' expressions

The French preposition sans means "without," indicating a lack in general, an absence, privation or an exclusion. It can be used with nouns, pronouns, and verbs, and it appears in many French idiomatic expressions: to signify "without," to express a condition and to use with an infinitive. Learn how to say homeless, otherwise, barefoot, and more with this partial list of expressions using sans. There are many, many more.

The word "sans" has also made its way into several English-language terms and expressions, such as sans serif, describing a font without flourishes or serifs.

To Indicate a Lack

Il est parti sans moi.
He left without me.

Sans argent, c'est difficile.
It's hard without money.

sans blague
seriously; all kidding aside; no kidding

sans chaussures
barefoot

sans quoi (informal)
otherwise

sans attendre
right away

sans aucun doute
without a doubt

sans additif 
additive-free

essence sans plomb
lead-free gasoline

sans scrupules
unscrupulous

To Say What Didn't Happen

Il est parti sans me parler.
He left without saying anything to me.

Elle est venue sans être invitée.
She came uninvited (without being invited).

To Express a Condition

Sans mes amis, je serais triste.
If it weren't for my friends, I'd be sad.

Sans son assistance, nous ne pourrons pas finir le projet.
We won't be able to finished the project without his help.

When Used With an Infinitive

sans savoir
without knowing; without being aware 

sans plus attendre
without further ado

comprendre sans comprendre
to understand without fully understanding

To Signify 'Without' and Translate as 'un____' Or '____less'  

un homme sans abri
homeless man

sans coeur
heartless

une femme sans préjugés
unbiased woman

sans scrupules
unscrupulous

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Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "The French Preposition 'Sans': How to Use It." ThoughtCo, Apr. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/sans-french-preposition-1368920. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, April 12). The French Preposition 'Sans': How to Use It. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sans-french-preposition-1368920 Lawless, Laura K. "The French Preposition 'Sans': How to Use It." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sans-french-preposition-1368920 (accessed January 20, 2018).