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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

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.


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.


Q&A

Carolyn

Kwiziq community member

18 June 2018

1 reply

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 June 2018

19/06/18

Bonjour Carolyn !


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


Merci encore et bonne journée !

Helen Campbell

Kwiziq community member

8 June 2018

1 reply

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

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 June 2018

8/06/18

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?

Alan

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

1 reply

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

26 January 2018

26/01/18

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 !

Yulia

Kwiziq community member

9 January 2018

1 reply

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

Simon

Kwiziq language super star

9 January 2018

9/01/18

Hi Yulia, thanks for asking, it was a typo in the content, we have fixed it now and the examples are showing properly.

Nina

Kwiziq community member

7 December 2017

3 replies

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!

Chris

Kwiziq community member

7 December 2017

7/12/17

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).

Nina

Kwiziq community member

7 December 2017

7/12/17

Thank you Chris for your explanation!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

28 February 2018

28/02/18

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!


 

John

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2016

1 reply

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 September 2016

9/09/16

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 !
Clever stuff underway!