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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is-- When do you use verbe + à or verbe + de for verbs that can use either?
Depending on the context, some French verbs can use either à or de. The most common ones are probably penser, meaning "to think," parler, "to talk" and jouer, "to play." While each of these verbs can use both constructions, the nuances are different, and we will go over that in this lesson.
Both penser à and penser de mean “to think about.” But, penser à gives the impression of having something “in mind.” An example would be, A quoi tu penses? which means, “What are you thinking about?” or “What do you have in mind?”
Penser de is usually for soliciting opinions. For example, Qu’est-ce que tu penses de ce film? is, “What do you think about this film?”
For parler, “to talk,” parler à is used to express to whom you're talking. So, "I'm talking to my aunt," would be, Je parle à ma tante.
Parler de is for what you’re talking about. If you said, Je parle de ma tante, in English it would be, "I'm talking about my aunt." So parler de is for topics and parle à is for people.
The same rule applies to demander, meaning “to ask,” and promettre, “to promise.” Demander à, is "to ask someone something” and demander de is "to ask someone to do something." Promettre à is "to promise someone something" and promettre de is “to promise to do something.”
For jouer, “to play,” it’s very simple to understand. Jouer à is for sports and jouer de is for musical instruments.
So you would say, Je joue du piano, “I play piano,” but Je joue au tennis, “I play tennis.” Remember, à plus le makes au.
Those are the major differences you’ll come across.
There are some verbs like continuer, “to continue” and commencer, “to start” that mean the same thing, whether you use à or de.
I hope that clears things up!
If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
A bientôt, see you soon!