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environ and vers in French

Environ or vers? What’s the difference?

by | 27 Apr 2019 | French Language


Environ and vers are two words used in French when you want to say approximately, around, about…


What is the difference between vers and environ, and when should we use one or the other?  You’ll see it’s not very difficult actually:


Use environ when talking about a quantity, when you are about to introduce a number that is approximate. You can place the word environ just before or just after the noun or the group of words it refers to:

  • Il existe environ 20 000 espèces d’abeilles dans le monde. (There are about 20,000 species of bees in the world)
  • Il y a 20 000 espèces d’abeilles environ dans le monde.
  • Il faut environ 10 minutes pour remplir leur formulaire. (It will take about 10 minutes to fill in their form.)
  • Il faut 10 minutes environ pour remplir leur formulaire.


Use vers when referring to space or time. Vers can only be placed before the word or group of words it refers to:

  • Sa famille habite vers Lille. (His/her family lives near Lille.)
  • La dernière fois que je l’ai vu, c’était vers la fin de l’année. (Last time I saw him was towards the end of the year.)


Note: you can equally use environ or vers when telling the time.

  • Il est arrivé vers 9 heures. (He arrived at about 9) (Note the preposition à is not used with vers)
  • Il est arrivé à environ 9 heures. (Note how we keep the preposition à with environ)
  • Je partirai vers 8 heures 30. (I’ll go around 8:30)
  • Je partirai à 8 heures 30 environ.
  • Il doit être environ 3 heures. (It must be about 3 o’clock.)
  • Il doit être vers 3 heures.
  • Vers quelle heure tu peux venir? (Around what time can you come?)
  • À quelle heure environ tu peux venir?


There you are! You now know the difference between environ and vers and know which one to use. Congratulations! 🙂


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