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

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.


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.


Q&A

Inga Marie

Kwiziq community member

28 February 2019

3 replies

I made a chart

trying to make sense of these rules.. it seems to go like this:

[content removed]

 

Inga Marie

Kwiziq community member

28 February 2019

28/02/19

Well that went weird .. It looked fine until I hit 'submit' and sorry I can't delete it.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

1 March 2019

1/03/19

Hi Inga - HTML is stripped from comments automatically (to prevent abuse/spam etc) but if you want to submit a graphical suggestion like this you can send it as a document to support and we'll take a look.

I'll delete this comment in a bit for you, so don't worry about it going weird. Thanks!

 

Inga Marie

Kwiziq community member

1 March 2019

1/03/19

Sure. Where do I send it. It’s not anything fancy, just a clearer way to see it than the way you have it. At least to me.

Boschmann

Kwiziq community member

27 February 2019

1 reply

Question about the use of "dans le" with country names.

I was always taught (from textbooks, profs, etc) to use "en" with French countries/states/provinces that end in -e or start with a vowel sound and are singular. "Aux" with plural names, and au for the rest--with the exception of Mexique which uses "au" though it ends in -e. Oh, and à with cities. 

Is this "dans le" thing a change in how the language is done or a regional peculiarity or what?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 March 2019

3/03/19

Hi Boschmann,

If you read the Q&A section at the bottom of this lesson, you will see that there are lots of cases to use ‘dans le’ ,mainly for regions and counties.

This is not a regional peculiarity.

Lucy

Kwiziq community member

13 February 2019

1 reply

Why is “j’habite dans le New Jersey” correct, but “j’habite dans le Texas” wrong?

Fahad

Kwiziq community member

15 April 2019

15/04/19

Texas, New Mexico, and Quebec are exceptions - they use 'au' instead of 'dans' (as if they were countries)

Bonnie

Kwiziq community member

7 February 2019

2 replies

En Idaho ou dans l'Idaho?

Bonnie

Kwiziq community member

7 February 2019

7/02/19

My detailed explanation was lost... 

If "dans l'Ontario" is "correct" but "en Ontario" is acceptable for pronunciation purposes, does the same apply to U.S. states that begin with vowels? I've seen "en Alaska, en Iowa", etc., and have even read that to use "dans le" in those circumstances is "affected". If one is acceptable in conversation, but not in written French, that would be helpful to know... 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 February 2019

8/02/19

Hi Bonnie,

Yes these sound correct to me .

In the case of Idaho , I would say, ‘dans l’Idaho’ which is easier to pronounce but it is , I think acceptable to say both...

Tom

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2019

2 replies

Languedoc-Roussillon.

I came across this Q/A

Mes parents vivent ________ Languedoc-Roussillon

The only answer accepted is dans le Languedoc-Roussillon yet I have seen numerous instances en Languedoc-Roussillon cited in many august sources.

I will reference only one from INSEE:

"La pauvreté en Languedoc-Roussillon" - www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/1894450

Is INSEE wrong?

Tom

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 January 2019

24/01/19

Hi Tom,

You can actually say both but using ‘en’ rather than ‘dans le’ is according to the Petit Robert ‘affecté’ and sounds precious.

You will see this used in tourist literature used even sometimes for towns-

En Arles, en Avignon...

“Découvrez le guide vacances pour préparer votre séjour en Pays de la Loire.”

But - ‘Les cinq départements des Pays de la Loire’

So I stand by the correction as it is difficult enough for students to get to grips with all the intricacies of using ‘en’, ‘dans’ and ‘à’ and I dont wish to complicate matters...

Hope this helps! 

Tom

Kwiziq community member

24 January 2019

24/01/19

Hi Cécile,

Thanks for the reply.

I understand the "préciosité" of this construction, hence my referece to "august sources".

As you said, and I accept, this may be a difficult topic for beginners but perhaps this could introduced in later level, say C1.

Since Kwiziq purports to support learning to CEFR C1, I believe the site should endeavour to include all valid constructions and registers at the appropiate CEFR level.

I would hate to thing that Kwiziq was guilty of dumbing down its content.

Tom

Patricia

Kwiziq community member

15 January 2019

2 replies

Like Susan, I'm taking a long time to master these rules though I summarise them. I live in Australia and this emphasis on America and Canada.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 January 2019

17/01/19

Hi Patricia,

If you send me examples of the Australian regions you would like to express in French I will advise ....

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 January 2019

17/01/19

Hi Patricia,

If you send me examples of the Australian regions you would like to express in French I will advise ....

Susan

Kwiziq community member

7 January 2019

1 reply

I have taken at least 15 quizzes on this topic and I still miss some. It is very confusing.having

Isn’t  there a chart of some sort to help with this topic.?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

10 January 2019

10/01/19

There are lots of Q&A's at the bottom of the lesson page. Have you looked through those yet?

Ryan

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2018

1 reply

WHYYY

Honestly instead of making like 5-6 different articles about all the prepositions for to/from different places, why wouldn't you make a single article with a chart summarizing all of them?

It's a confusing topic, and it's expressed horrendously here on this website in an unnecessarily convoluted manner.

Inga Marie

Kwiziq community member

28 February 2019

28/02/19

i agree.

Mary

Kwiziq community member

6 December 2018

2 replies

My second question on the test referred to Devonshire, which I assumed to be feminine.

After taking the test, I found an explanation that all English countries ending in shire are masculine, but I don't believe it was mentioned in the material of the lesson before the test. If I'm correct that is was not explained beforehand, it doesn't seem like a good question.

Ryan

Kwiziq community member

26 December 2018

26/12/18

It's mentioned in one of the articles about the gender of countries, but not in all of them. It is a little silly if they happen to give you the articles out of order and you just happen to miss that one...

Mary

Kwiziq community member

17 February 2019

17/02/19

Thanks! I was frustrated by the Devonshire question because I took the lesson in the order it was suggested to me and didn't read the lesson that explained about English counties.

Bill

Kwiziq community member

26 November 2018

2 replies

Bonjour

how about being from a state or country? Are they all « de » somehow I can’t find lessons talking about from somewhere other than cities.  Is it:?

je viens de Californie

je viens de États-Unis. 

Merci d’aVance

Bill

Kwiziq community member

26 November 2018

26/11/18

des États-Unis?

Bill

Kwiziq community member

26 November 2018

26/11/18

Never mind just found it! Sorry for the inconvenience 
Clever stuff underway!