Continents, countries, regions & states are masculine, feminine or plural (gender)

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.
Britany 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).  

EXCEPTIONS:

  • 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), ...

ATTENTION: 
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 noteable 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.

 

VOCABULARY LINKS:
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:

Vocabulaire - Les pays


See also  Using en with feminine countries and au(x) with masculine countries to say in or to (prepositions), Venir de, d', du, des + country / state / region = To come/be from and Using le, la, l', les with continents, countries & regions names (definite articles) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ils habitent dans le Yorkshire.
They live in Yorkshire.


La Bretagne est une région magnifique.
Britany is a wonderful region.


Elle adore la Floride!
She loves Florida!


Là-bas, on découvre un Japon sauvage.
Over there, one discovers a wild Japan.



Le Merseyside est un comté anglais qui comprend Liverpool.
Merseyside is an English county that includes Liverpool.


Il rêve d'une Europe unie.
He dreams of a united Europe.


J'adore les Pays-Bas!
I love the Netherlands!


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.


Je travaille dans le Hampshire.
I work in Hampshire.


J'ai été enchanté par la Cornouailles, que j'ai découverte cette année.
I was delighted by Cornwall, that I discovered this year.


Q&A Forum 12 questions, 14 answers

Is there any particular reason why New Hampshire doesn't become "Nouveau-Hampshire"?

I live in New Brunswick, Canada, and in French we are called Nouveau-Brunswick. Is that just because Canada is more French than the US? Just curious.

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

That's an interesting remark Ally as indeed 'le Nouveau-Brunswick' is used in bilingual Canada ...

Here is an extract from a French Wikipedia site on Le New Hampshire -

Le New Hampshire est un État des États-Unis situé dans la région de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, au nord-est du pays. Il est bordé à l'ouest par le Vermont, au nord par le Québec, à l'est par le Maine et l'océan Atlantique et au sud par le Massachusetts. Le nom « New Hampshire » provient de celui du comté du Hampshire, au sud de l'Angleterre. Parmi les États américains, le New Hampshire se classe 44e pour ce qui est de la superficie de terres, 46e pour la superficie totale et 42e pour la population. Le fleuve Connecticut sert de frontière entre le New Hampshire et le Vermont. En 2017, sa population s'élève à 1 342 795 habitants2.

 

 

Is there any particular reason why New Hampshire doesn't become "Nouveau-Hampshire"?

I live in New Brunswick, Canada, and in French we are called Nouveau-Brunswick. Is that just because Canada is more French than the US? Just curious.

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Can someone explain why Iraq and Iran are masculine yet you use en in front of them

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Frazer,

If you try and say -

‘Au Irak, au Iran‘ you will see the problem..

Sometimes grammar rules are changed for pronunciation purposes...

Can someone explain why Iraq and Iran are masculine yet you use en in front of them

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Can the Vocabulary list of countries be made available as a downloadable interactive PDF file or an option to add it to the Notebooks section?

Asked 9 months ago
Google is your friend:
https://www.thoughtco.com/say-countries-of-world-in-french-4080349

Can the Vocabulary list of countries be made available as a downloadable interactive PDF file or an option to add it to the Notebooks section?

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In the example "Je travaille dans le Hampshire", why isn't it "Je travaille dans l'Hampshire"?

Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer
I think the French are trying to pronounce the H (h aspiré) and so the 'le' doesn't contract.

In the example "Je travaille dans le Hampshire", why isn't it "Je travaille dans l'Hampshire"?

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Can I skip the cities/countries lessons till later?

I've been doing your excellent course for almost a week. For me, the dynamic algorithmic quizzes are a superb feature. I believe in "Active recall", as used in Anki.

I'm still in the "initial enthusiasm" stage, where I try to take maximum advantage of the initial surge, before gradually levelling off to a normal rate.

On today's dashboard, I notice that there are five recommended lessons relating to countries, cities, and so on.

I'm striving to think of a reason why it would be great to know, for example, "la Cornouailles". I suppose if I were in France, and someone asked me if I came from "la Cornouailles", I could say "Oui", or possibly "Non".

I've worked in five countries having five different language. (That's why I now speak and write very short sentences. Sorry about that.) I don't recall ever needing to know the name of a different country, or a town in a different country.

So, is it possible for me to simply postpone these lessons until later? Would that screw up my Dashboard? If I do the quizzes quickly by giving the first anwer that occurs to me, would that confuse the bot?

Thanks.
Asked 10 months ago

Can I skip the cities/countries lessons till later?

I've been doing your excellent course for almost a week. For me, the dynamic algorithmic quizzes are a superb feature. I believe in "Active recall", as used in Anki.

I'm still in the "initial enthusiasm" stage, where I try to take maximum advantage of the initial surge, before gradually levelling off to a normal rate.

On today's dashboard, I notice that there are five recommended lessons relating to countries, cities, and so on.

I'm striving to think of a reason why it would be great to know, for example, "la Cornouailles". I suppose if I were in France, and someone asked me if I came from "la Cornouailles", I could say "Oui", or possibly "Non".

I've worked in five countries having five different language. (That's why I now speak and write very short sentences. Sorry about that.) I don't recall ever needing to know the name of a different country, or a town in a different country.

So, is it possible for me to simply postpone these lessons until later? Would that screw up my Dashboard? If I do the quizzes quickly by giving the first anwer that occurs to me, would that confuse the bot?

Thanks.

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Cornwall, which in French is translated as la or les Cornouailles

Hello, Is it entirely optional to use la or les Cornouailles, or are there situations where you use one or the other?
Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Paul,

As La Cornouaille is a part of Brittany with Quimper as its capital (also known as  la Cornouaille bretonne), Cornwall  is normally known in France as Les Cornouailles to distinguish them from each other.

if you say:  "Je vais en Cornouialles pour mes vacances cet été" , it might sound ambiguous but with the context it would be clear , I think.

Hope this helps!

 

That's fascinating Cécile. I didn't know about the two Cornwall's/Cornouille(s). Thank you for the explanation.

Cornwall, which in French is translated as la or les Cornouailles

Hello, Is it entirely optional to use la or les Cornouailles, or are there situations where you use one or the other?

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I don’t think it is correct English to say ‘Merseyside comprises Liverpool’. One could possibly say ‘includes Liverpool’?

Maybe it is a phrase that doesn’t directly translate?
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Carolyn !

Thanks very much for pointing this out.
It's now been fixed :)

Merci encore et bonne journée !

I don’t think it is correct English to say ‘Merseyside comprises Liverpool’. One could possibly say ‘includes Liverpool’?

Maybe it is a phrase that doesn’t directly translate?

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Helen CampbellA1

Why isn’t Brazil masculine, it’s a country, ends in a letter other than e, not mentioned as an exception....

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Helen, 
Brazil is masculine in French , so it is:

le Brésil and

au Brésil.

Are you referring to a particular test or is this just a general question?

Helen Campbell asked:View original

Why isn’t Brazil masculine, it’s a country, ends in a letter other than e, not mentioned as an exception....

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When you refer to English counties in this lesson d you mean UK counties? Thanks.

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Alan ! I was actually talking specifically of English counties, as I must admit I wasn't familiar at all with the counties of other UK countries. After looking into it, I'd say the rule is the same, though I would probably use a more explanatory expression such as "dans le comté de", as unfortunately most people wouldn't know these places. Merci et bonne journée !

When you refer to English counties in this lesson d you mean UK counties? Thanks.

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sur cette page : example id=["4680"] example id=["4682"] - qu'est-ce que c'est que ça ? :)))

Asked 1 year ago
SimonKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Hi Yulia, thanks for asking, it was a typo in the content, we have fixed it now and the examples are showing properly.

sur cette page : example id=["4680"] example id=["4682"] - qu'est-ce que c'est que ça ? :)))

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I am going to..

In the kwiz the first question was "Complete the sentence with the correct definite article: Je vais visiter ________ France cet été." I didn't choose any article because in another lesson it was mentioned that when talking about going to or from a country, you won't use the definite article. Then why it was marked as a wrong answer? Thank you for your answer!
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Nina, 

With the verb "visiter" you always use the article, so you will have , for exemple,

Je vais visiter la France, la Russie et la Pologne ensuite je visiterai le Vietnam et le Japon.

I am going to visit France, Russia and Poland and then I will visit Vietnam and Japan.

But,  

je vais aller en France, en Russie et en Pologne et ensuite j'irai au Vietnam et au Japon.

I am going to go to France, to Russia and Poland but then I'll go to Vietnam and Japan.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Je vais en France. -- I am going to France. Je viens de France. -- I am coming from France. Je visite la France. -- I visit France. There is always either a preposition or the definite article in front of a country name. S if the verb doesn't require a proposition you use the definite article. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
Thank you Chris for your explanation!

I am going to..

In the kwiz the first question was "Complete the sentence with the correct definite article: Je vais visiter ________ France cet été." I didn't choose any article because in another lesson it was mentioned that when talking about going to or from a country, you won't use the definite article. Then why it was marked as a wrong answer? Thank you for your answer!

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LearnFrenchVideo error

I know the video is just a link, but I think there is a few errors... I think La China is supposed to be La Chine..? I also noticed there was a definate article in front of every country except Israël...was this on purpose or should it be L'Israël?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour John ! "La Chine" is indeed the correct spelling. However, it's true that we'd never use the definite article in front of "Israël", I can't really think of why... Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

LearnFrenchVideo error

I know the video is just a link, but I think there is a few errors... I think La China is supposed to be La Chine..? I also noticed there was a definate article in front of every country except Israël...was this on purpose or should it be L'Israël?

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Clever stuff underway!