Created using FigmaCreated using Figma

En, dans = In, to with regions, states, counties (prepositions)

We know that regions, states or counties have genders in French, see Continents, countries, regions & states are masculine, feminine or plural (gender).

Note that while we always use to in English for these places, in French we use different prepositions for one or the other. 
We use à with cities, see Using 'à' (to/in) and 'de' (from/of) with cities (prepositions), en/au/aux with countries and continents, see Using en with feminine countries and au(x) with masculine countries to say in or to (prepositions), now let's look at how it goes with regions, states and counties.

Look at these examples:

J'habite dans le New Jersey.
I live in New Jersey.

Mon frère va en Californie tous les étés.
My brother goes to California every summer.

Mes parents habitent en Provence.
My parents live in Provence.

Nous allons dans l'Illinois pour les vacances.
We're going to Illinois for the holidays.

Il y a de belles montagnes dans le Jura.
There are beautiful montains in Jura.

Here is the rule to express in or to:

- You use en with feminine regions/states/counties (usually ending in -e)

- You use dans le with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a consonant.

- You use dans l' with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a vowel.

Note that en is also acceptable for reasons of pronunciation:

Nadia habite dans l'Ontario.
Nadia lives in Ontario.

Nadia habite en Ontario.
Nadia lives in Ontario.

 

EXCEPTIONS: 

These states use au instead of dans le:

Mon oncle habite au Texas.
My uncle lives in Texas.


Tu habites au Nouveau-Mexique.
You live in New Mexico.

Note that the province of Le Québec behaves like a country in French:

Martine habite au Québec.
Martine lives in Quebec.

 

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tu habites au Nouveau-Mexique.
You live in New Mexico.


Mon oncle habite au Texas.
My uncle lives in Texas.


Nous allons dans l'Illinois pour les vacances.
We're going to Illinois for the holidays.


Il y a de belles montagnes dans le Jura.
There are beautiful montains in Jura.


Mes parents habitent en Provence.
My parents live in Provence.


Nadia habite en Ontario.
Nadia lives in Ontario.


Mon frère va en Californie tous les étés.
My brother goes to California every summer.


Nadia habite dans l'Ontario.
Nadia lives in Ontario.


J'habite dans le New Jersey.
I live in New Jersey.


Micro kwiz: En, dans = In, to with regions, states, counties (prepositions)
Loading your Kwiz

Q&A

Paul

Kwiziq community member

6 March 2018

1 reply

Just a note to add that Québec is also a city, as well as a Province (that acts like a country.) 

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

7 March 2018

7/03/18

Bonjour Paul !


Yes, of course, when talking about Québec City, you will use "à + [city]", as such:


J'habite à Québec.

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

11 September 2017

4 replies

When do you need to use an article with a country, for example, La Corse or Corse.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 October 2017

13/10/17

Bonjour Mary Ann !

The short answer is that you always use the definite article with countries, regions etc to simply say France, Corsica...la France, la Corse...

Have a look at our related lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/using-le-la-l-les-with-continents-countries-and-regions-names


Bonne journée !

Ron

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2017

12/09/17

Bonjour Mary Anne,
This is going to sound somewhat terse, but, other than a couple of shortcuts provided in the lesson from Aurélie, i.e. Here is the rule to express in or to:
- You use en with feminine regions/states/counties (usually ending in -e)
- You use dans le with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a consonant.
- You use dans l' with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a vowel.
Note that en is also acceptable for reasons of pronunciation:
These will need to be learned or otherwise committed to memory. I have been studying French since 1999 and because I do not use countries, regions, states enough, most of the time I must look it up, like if I am writing a paper or something.
Is it worth the time to memorize such a thing, unequivocally YES.

J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera.
Bonne chance dans vos études en français.

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

14 September 2017

14/09/17

Thank you but my question was about the use of a definite article with a place name. Are you saying that "dans" does not use a definite article, but "en" does?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

14 September 2017

14/09/17

For purposes of clarification regarding the use of «dans le» and «en», typically dans le, dans l', follow the following rule:
- You use dans le with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a CONSONANT.
- You use dans l' with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a VOWEL
So yes, «dans» uses the definite article.
However, what the author, Aurélie, states is this:
Note that «en» is also acceptable for reasons of PRONUNCIATION (only); I added the «only» to indicate the emphasis toward spoken French. If the speaker chooses to use «en», it would be WITHOUT a definite article like in the example above in the lesson.
Now for one caveat, Aurélie may follow with a different explanation, possibly in more detail; however, based on the lesson and my studies, this is the best explanation that I can offer.
I do hope this clarifies, somewhat, my response for you.

Bonne chance et à bientôt !

Will

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

1 reply

Some additional resources?

I'm really struggling with bringing all the preposition rules together for cities, regions, states, countries. Just as I slowly think i am cracking it with à, de (to/from cities), au, du (to/from m countries) and en/de - I then hit the stumbling block with regions and states as on the lesson here I read it also applies to countries. I have searched for YouTube videos to explain but it seems hard to find one where someone goes over all the different variables. Can anyone suggest a good single point of reference?

Will

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Oops - I misread counties as countries! Perhaps that might be the source of my struggles!

K

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

1 reply

Sorry, change that "country" to "county"

Ron

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

22/08/17

Please view the reply on your previous question.

K

Kwiziq community member

21 August 2017

1 reply

" You use dans le with masculine regions/states/counties starting with a consonant."

When is "dans" used with a country? Examples, please.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

22/08/17

Bonjour K,
I noticed your amended question regarding counties and it appears that possibly counties refer to the English counties such as York, Cumbria, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, etc. I find no reference to counties in the US. For example, in Texas, Dallas is in Dallas county, Houston in Harris county and Austin in Hayes, Travis and Williamson. So similarly to your question, I am curious to know if US counties are also masculin.
J'espère que cela vous aiderait.
Bonne chance

Anyul

Kwiziq community member

5 August 2017

1 reply

there's a contradiction between lessons

There's a contradiction between this lesson and https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/review/3217/102145 As there explains that you always use à for cities. I quote "In French, to say which city you live in, you use: J'habite à + the city". Which one is right?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

5 August 2017

5/08/17

Bonjour Anyul,

There's no contradiction. This lesson is about the preposition you use with regions, states, and counties. The other is about the preposition needed with cities. In French, the preposition is different depending on the geographical place.

nim

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2017

4 replies

au

is there a reason texas and new mexico use "au" instead of dans le other than the fact that it is an exception? and if so, are there other ones that use "au"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 August 2017

9/08/17

Bonjour Nim !

Unfortunately, I don't have a definitive explanation for you.
My guess would be that Texas was almost like a separate country as some point in its history, and that New Mexico contains the name of a country, so they follow the masculine countries rule of agreement with "au".

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Lanny

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2018

28/01/18

Texas was a country between 1836 (independence from Mexico) and 1845 (entered United States).


France was one of the few nations to grant semi-official recognition of Texas on September 25, 1839.
In 1841 The French opened a legation which still stands in Austin, (a few miles from the site of the current Texas Capitol building), and Texas in turn opened an embassy in Paris.
France had wanted to set up a consulate general in Washington-on-the-Brazos and a consulate in Houston as well.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

3 August 2017

3/08/17

Bonjour Nim,
Texas and New Mexico are both masculine nouns as is Canada, hence je vais au Canada, je vais au Texas and je vais au Nouveau Mexique.

J'espère que cela vous aidera.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Bonjour Lanny !

Merci beaucoup pour ces explications très intéressantes !

Bonne journée !

Kari

Kwiziq community member

30 June 2017

3 replies

Don't suppose you could add the type of place in the questions?

I would find it a lot easier on the tests if you would indicate if something is a city, state or region for example. Being from Canada the North American references are easy but the European not so much. Example Catalonia - had no idea it was a region until I googled it.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

3 July 2017

3/07/17

Bonjour Kari,
J'imagine qu'il y a une partie qu'il faut rechercher. J'ai la même problème parce que je ne connais pas tous les régions, les états ou les pays. néanmoins, j'ai dû faire la recherche tel vous.
Bonne chance,

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

6 July 2017

6/07/17

Bonjour Kari !

I understand your point, and it is indeed an excellent point !
I've now updated our questions to give relevant hints in these cases :)

I hope that's helpful!
Merci et à bientôt !

Kari

Kwiziq community member

7 July 2017

7/07/17

Thanks so much!!

Anish

Kwiziq community member

27 June 2017

4 replies

Does this rule apply only to the regions / states in US and Canada?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2017

29/06/17

Bonjour Anish !

Yes it does, as you can see in some of our examples: Illinois / Californie / Ontario...

À bientôt !

Anish

Kwiziq community member

29 June 2017

29/06/17

Hi Aurélie, thank you for the reply. What will be the rule for states / regions in other countries like Bavaria in Germany

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

30 June 2017

30/06/17

Bonjour Anish !

The rule would be the same for German Länder:
en Bavière = in Bavaria
dans le Brandebourg = in Brandenburg

Bonne journée !

Anish

Kwiziq community member

30 June 2017

30/06/17

Thank you. Makes it very clear.

Heera

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2017

4 replies

Bonjour Aurélie!

What is the difference between "Je vais au Portugal" and "Je vais dans le Portugal" ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Bonjour Heera !

"Je vais dans le Portugal." doesn't exist in French: it sounds really weird, like "I'm going inside Portugal", as if it was an object...
Portugal being a masculine country, "Je vais au Portugal" is the only correct sentence in French.

Have a look at this lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/use-en-with-feminine-countries-and-aux-with-masculine-countries-to-say-in-or-to-prepositions

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Heera

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Merci Aurélie. I had seen "Nous allons dans l'Illinois pour les vacances - We're going to Illinois for the holidays" and hence the question.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 April 2017

19/04/17

Bonjour Heera !

The rule is different for US states, regions or counties, hence "dans l'Illinois".

Bonne journée !

Heera

Kwiziq community member

19 April 2017

19/04/17

Merci beaucoup, Aurélie! Bonne journée!
Getting that for you now.