Par Train vs. En Train

devbanana

devbanana

Just a point I'm curious about. In 1.14 I saw the expression “par train” to mean “by train”, “par voiture” to mean “by car”, etc.

 

I also use Duolingo in parallel to Rocket French and they taught the expression, “en train”, “en voiture”, etc.

 

Are both valid, or is “par train” etc the more valid use? I tend to trust Rocket French more than Duolingo but wanted to know about this difference.

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour devbanana,

 

Par means by (to be transported or moved by a certain means), while en means in (to be physically inside something), so in that sense they are different.

However, par train and en train are largely the same, especially in the context of travel. There is a slight difference which I will go into below. But, first here are a couple of examples in which both propositions par and en are interchangeable:

  • Il préfère voyager par train. (He prefers to travel by train.)
  • Il préfère voyager en train. (He prefers to travel by(in) train.)
  • Il y a beaucoup plus de voyages par avion. (There are a lot more trips by plane.)
  • Il y a beaucoup plus de voyages en avion. (There are a lot more trips by(in) plane.)

 

The difference lies in the meaning of the verb used and the meaning of the prepositions. Par is best translated as by and is used to indicate the way something is used or moved. En essentially means inside or in, so the meaning is perhaps more straightforward. He are a couple of examples:

  • Je t'envoie la lettre par la poste. (I'll send you the letter by post.) - Can't use en.
  • Ils ont survolé la région en hélicoptère. (They flew over the region in a helicopter.) - Can't use par.

 

The distinction can sometimes be cloudy and broadly speaking you can use both, so I wouldn't get too caught up on it. To be honest, even some French people struggle with the correct use of these two prepositions and the nuances between the two.

 

I hope this helps,

   -   Mitchell

 

devbanana

devbanana

Bonjour Mitchell,

 

Thanks so much for your valuable response! It was extremely helpful!

devbanana

devbanana

Just a followup on this question, are there certain modes of transportation that don't work with par?

 

For example, I've seen “en métro”, but “par métro” doesn't seem to be correct.

 

According to this resource, par only works with train and avion. They also say it's “par le train” but not sure how accurate that is.

 

Would love further feedback on this. Hopefully future lessons will make this clearer.

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour devbanana,

 

When using par to express going by a certain means of transport, a general rule of thumb is that par is used just for trains and planes. You can say either:

  • par train
  • par le train (either or is fine) or, 
  • par avion

Par is used in other contexts to mean ‘by means of’, and this is often a source of confusion because it aligns very closely with the meaning of taking transport. 

 

As for your specific question about métro, the preposition you use depends on the context. For example, if we are taking the metro to get from A to B then we would use en, however when referring to the métro as a means of doing something you might use either en or par.

  • On y va en métro, ça sera plus rapide! (Let's go by metro, it'll be quicker!) - simple A to B
  • Pendant la guerre, ils ont distribués la nourriture par métro. (During the war, they distributed food by the metro.) - ‘by means of’

 

I hope this clears this up for you; if not let me know.

   -   Mitchell

devbanana

devbanana

Thanks so much, that definitely clears things up a lot. Appreciate your patience and clarity.

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