We know that countries and continents have genders in French [see Continents/countries/counties/regions/states are masculine, feminine or plural in French (Gender)]
Note that while we always use in and to in English for cities and countries, in French we use different prepositions for one or the other.
We use à with cities À = To/in and De = From/of with cities in French (French Prepositions of Location), it's a bit more complicated when it comes to countries.
Have a look at these examples:
Je vais en France ce weekend.I'm going to France this weekend.
Il est en Angleterre maintenant.He's in England now.
On est au Portugal.We are in Portugal.
Vous allez aux États-Unis.You are going to the United States.
Ils vont au Pays de Galles.They are going to Wales.
Here are the rules:
- en is used with feminine countries (the ones ending in -e, except for Mexique, Cambodge, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Belize) and continents (all of them are feminine)
- au is used with masculine countries
For pronunciation reasons, you will use en with masculine countries starting with a vowel:
Mon ami Sahid vit en Iran.My friend Sahid lives in Iran.
J'ai passé mon été en Ouganda.I spent my summer in Uganda.
- aux is used with plural countries
Note that Le Québec behaves like a country, even though it's a province:
Martine habite au Québec.Martine lives in Quebec.
See also the related lesson: En/Dans = in/to + regions/states/counties (French Prepositions)
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