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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I have a hard time knowing when to use "nan" vs. "an" (as prepositions with verbs of motion such as "ale, vini, soti, elatriye"). Any pointers?

Do you mean the prepositions AT, TO, FROM, ETC...?

If yes, then we'd use the Creole NAN.
1. Mwen t'ale nan yon fèt. (We went to a party.)

2. Nou prale nan legliz la. (We'll go to the church.)

3. Li te vini nan fen fim nan. (He came at the end of the movie.)

4. Nou soti nan yon gran fanmi. (We came from a reputable family.)

As far as AN (let's) is concerned, we'd use it imperatively as in AN NOU (non contracted), AN'N (contracted), or ANN (contracted)
5. Ann ale. (let's go.)
6. Ann soti deyò a. (let's go outside)
Haitian Creole ↔ English Reference, Look up Haitian Creole and English Words


  1. Would you say "M viv nan Ayiti" or "M viv an(n) Ayiti" or neither? But it is correst to say "M ale nan Ayiti"?

    1. I would say: M'ap viv Ayiti.

      If you want to use "nan", then you could say: M'ap viv nan peyi Ayiti.

      Sometimes we, Creole speakers, borrow the FRENCH preposition "en" which means "in", and we use it in Creole (writing it as AN) to specifically translate "IN/TO". These sentences become what you might call a FRENCH-ISED Creole.
      That's when you would hear:

      1. Mwen prale an Ayiti. (I am going to Haiti)
      2. Nou te voye yo an Ayiti. (We sent them to Haiti)
      3. Yo te rive an Ayiti. (They arrived in Haiti)
      4. Nou abite an Ayiti. (We live in Haiti)
      5. Sa te rive an Ayiti. (It happened in Haiti)

      Now, all the above sentences would be correct in Creole if we omitted the borrowed French prep "an". We'll have them as the followings:
      1. Mwen prale Ayiti.
      2. Nou te voye yo Ayiti.
      3. Yo te rive Ayiti.
      4. Nou abite Ayiti.
      5. Sa te rive Ayiti.
      You will also find this preposition "an" when talking about the months:

      1. M'ap vin wè'w an desanm. → I'll come to see you in December.
      2. Mwen te fèt an janvye. → I was born in January

      If, instead, you want to use "nan" in the sentences above, then you'd say:
      1. M'ap vin wè'w nan mwa desanm.
      2. Mwen te fèt nan mwa janvye.

  2. But why do you say "Nou prale nan legliz la" but "M prale (an) Ayiti?"

    How do I know when "nan" is required?

    It is not required with countries? (but the Frenchy "an" is acceptable there?)

  3. You could also say NOU PRALE LEGLIZ.
    It all will depend whether you are being specific or not... about GOING TO A LOCATION.

    Here are some examples on using NAN when talking about going to a location

    Nou prale legliz → We’re going to church.
    Nou prale nan legliz la. → We’re going to the church.

    Nou prale Ayiti. → We’re going to Haiti.
    Nou prale nan peyi Ayiti. → We’re going to the country of Haiti.

    Nou prale lekòl → We’re going to school.
    Nou prale nan lekòl la. → We’re going to the school.

    Nou prale Cambridge. → We’re going to Cambridge.
    Nou prale nan vil Cambridge la. → We’re going to the city of Cambridge.

    There are other examples in the following links:

    Hope that helps :)