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Up Close and Personal with "Auprès"

Auprès de is a French preposition that doesn’t have a direct English translation. It generally refers to a situation of proximity and has a range of meanings, including “beside,” “next to,” “with,” “among,” “by,” “at,” “close to,” and more. It’s one of those words whose definition almost entirely depends on context, so let’s take a look at how it’s used in some Yabla videos.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The most literal meaning of auprès de is “beside” or “next to,” referring to physical proximity (another expression for this is à côté de). At the end of the classic French fairy tale La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), Belle wants nothing more than to be beside her beloved Beast:

 

Laissez-moi retourner auprès de lui; c'est mon seul souhait...

Let me return to his side; it's my only wish...

Caption 45, Bande-annonce - La Belle et La Bête

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On a less romantic note, you can also use auprès de to describe two things that are next to each other:

L’hôpital se trouve auprès du parc.
The hospital is located next to the park.

Auprès de doesn’t always refer to being directly beside someone or something. More generally, it can mean “with” (avec) or “among” (parmi) a group of people or things:

 

Thalar, mon cher ami, avez-vous enquêté auprès de tous les animaux?

Thalar, my dear friend, did you inquire among all the animals?

Caption 40, Les zooriginaux - 3 Qui suis-je?

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Une fois que tu seras auprès des chefs, tu pourras leur parler de ce que tu voudras.

Once you're with the chiefs, you'll be able to talk to them about whatever you like.

Captions 2-3, Il était une fois... L’Espace - 6. La révolte des robots

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When looking at two people or things that are beside one another, or considering two ideas or situations in your head, it’s almost impossible not to compare them. Along those lines, in addition to “with,” auprès de can also mean “compared with” or "compared to": 

Nous sommes pauvres auprès de nos voisins.
We are poor compared to our neighbors. 

Auprès de is also used in more formal administrative and governmental contexts to mean “at” or “with,” usually to direct people to a certain department or office or to describe people connected to a department or office: 

 

Les visites ont donc lieu tous les jours et sont gratuites mais pensez à réserver auprès de l'Office du Tourisme de Tourcoing.

So visits take place every day and are free, but think about making a reservation at the Tourcoing Tourism Office.

Captions 17-18, Grand Lille TV - Visite des serres de Tourcoing

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Aujourd'hui, par exemple, elle reçoit des chargés de mission auprès du gouvernement.

Today, for example, she meets with government representatives.

Caption 34, Le Journal - Les microcrédits

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J’ai laissé un message auprès de ta secrétaire.
I left a message with your secretary. 

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

You may have noticed that auprès de looks very similar to another preposition, près de (near, nearly, around). Près de also describes proximity, but it implies a greater distance than auprès de. It’s a question of being near something versus being next to something. In the first green example sentence, the hospital is directly beside the park. But in the sentence, L’hôpital est près du parc, the hospital is just in the park’s general vicinity. 

So whether you’re talking about being snuggled up beside a loved one or just walking among a group of people, auprès de is the phrase to use. Try using it to describe what or who is next to you right now! 

Vocabulary

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