In French, continents, countries, regions and states have different genders and they can also be plural.
Gender and number of continents, countries, regions and states in French
Look at these sentences:
Il rêve d'une Europe unie.He dreams of a united Europe.
J'adore les Pays-Bas !I love the Netherlands!
Là-bas, on découvre un Japon sauvage.Over there, one discovers a wild Japan.
La Bretagne est une région magnifique.Brittany is a wonderful region.
Elle adore la Floride !She loves Florida!
Note that in French, countries, continents, regions and states are either feminine, masculine or plural.
Here are the main rules:
- Most places ending in 'e' are feminine.
This includes all the continents (Europe, Afrique, Amérique, Asie, Océanie, Antarctique).
le Mexique (Mexico), le Cambodge (Cambodia), le Zimbabwe or Zimbabwé, le Mozambique and le Belize or Bélize
- Places ending in other letters (including other vowels: a, o, etc) are masculine.
le Japon, le Portugal, l'Ohio, le Nebraska, ...
- Some countries are plural: they're usually made up of several "parts" (states, lands...).
les États-Unis (USA), les Pays-Bas (Netherlands), ...
le Pays de Galles (Wales) is singular and masculine.
Case of English counties
English counties, including the ones ending in "-shire" and Merseyside, are masculine...
Ils habitent dans le Yorkshire.They live in Yorkshire.
Je travaille dans le Hampshire.I work in Hampshire.
Le Merseyside est un comté anglais qui comprend Liverpool.Merseyside is an English county that includes Liverpool.
BUT for two notable exceptions:
- Cornwall, which in French is translated as la or les Cornouailles.
- Isle of Wight, because the word île is feminine in French: l'île de Wight.
J'ai été enchanté par la Cornouailles, que j'ai découverte cette année.I was delighted by Cornwall, that I discovered this year.
L'île de Wight est très belle à cette époque de l'année.The Isle of Wight is very beautiful at this time of year.
Of course, this rule also applies to le New Hampshire.
Here's a link to the French Wikipédia page on American states, at the beginning of which you'll find the list with their genders marked -> (m) for masculine and (f) for feminine:
Les États des États-Unis
Here's our Vocabulary List of 46 countries:
Countries in French
See also En/au/aux = In/to with countries and continents (French Prepositions), Venir de/d'/du/des = To come/be from with countries/states/regions and continents (French Prepositions) and Using le, la, l', les with continents, countries & regions names (definite articles)
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