Created using FigmaCreated using FigmaCreated using FigmaCreated using Figma

Using le, la, l', les with continents, countries & regions names (definite articles)

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

Now look at these sentences:

La France est un merveilleux pays.
France is a wonderful country.

J'adore le Portugal et l'Italie.
I love Portugal and Italy.

Les Etats-Unis sont un immense pays.
The United States is a huge country.

Il adore l'Europe.
He loves Europe.

Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence.
I hate California or Provence.

Notice that in French, countries/continents/states/regions are used with the definite article le, la, l' or les, when used in general statements, unlike in English.

ATTENTION:
When talking about going to or from a country, you won't use the definite article.
See Using en with feminine countries and au(x) with masculine countries to say in or to (prepositions).

NOTE that cities do not use articles:

J'aime Paris et Londres.
I love Paris and London.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le Pays de Galles, l'Écosse, l'Angleterre et l'Irlande du Nord font partie du Royaume-Uni.
Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are part of the United Kingdom.


Il adore l'Europe.
He loves Europe.


Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence.
I hate California or Provence.



J'adore le Portugal et l'Italie.
I love Portugal and Italy.



La France est un merveilleux pays.
France is a wonderful country.


Les Etats-Unis sont un immense pays.
The United States is a huge country.


La France est un beau pays
France is a beautiful country 


J'aime Paris et Londres.
I love Paris and London.


Q&A

Ian

Kwiziq community member

18 June 2018

1 reply

I live in Wales, "Pay de Galles" in French. In conversation I find I am referred to as "de Galles", which is correct?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

19 June 2018

19/06/18

Hi Ian,


The country is 'Le Pays de Galles' and its inhabitants are 'les gallois' . I have never heard 'de Galles' used .


I think in Rugby they sometimes shorten it to 'Galles' when they speak of it in a match.


Maybe someone else can add to this?

julianne

Kwiziq community member

25 April 2018

2 replies

Is the correct English translation of Je déteste la California ou la Provence, I dislike California and Provence

i think the point is that in French 'ou' is used in this situation rather than 'et' - is that right? 

Alicia

Kwiziq community member

25 April 2018

25/04/18

Hi Julianne!


"I dislike California and Provence" is not the correct translation for "Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence".


Actually, there is something wrong about the French sentence here. We cannot say "Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence", but rather "Je déteste la Californie et la Provence" ou bien "Je déteste la Californie comme la Provence" (I dislike California just as I dislike Provence) 


'ou' could be used in this kind of sentence: "Je déteste le Sud: que ce soit la Californie ou la Provence" 


"I hate being in the South: whatever if it's California or Provence" (sorry for the clumsy English syntax!)

julianne

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2018

27/04/18

Thanks. So the text in the lesson needs to change then - that's where I got the French statement and incorrect it appears English translation from. Julianne 


Gwynn

Kwiziq community member

6 April 2018

2 replies

Why is Israel in effect neutral gender?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 April 2018

6/04/18

You mean, why it doesn't take an article? Good question. I am also waiting for Aurélies answer. But I'm afraid that there probably isn't a good reason except for "that's how it is".


-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

16 April 2018

16/04/18

Hi Gwynn,


Israel's long form in French is 'l'Etat d'Israel' which is a bit long so that maybe the reason for shortening to Israel! ( sorry my computer doesn't want to do a 'tréma' on the 'e' today)


Islands and groups of islands don't have an article either...


e.g. Cuba, Haïti, Chypre (Cyprus)


Hope this helps!

Robert

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2017

2 replies

Do adjectives always come in front of the noun they describe?

Peut on dire "La France est un pays merveilleux?"

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

12 October 2017

12/10/17

HI Robert

You can see all of our lessons on the rules around French adjectives - including position - here: https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/by-area/adjectives-adverbs

Hope that helps!

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2017

16/10/17

Hi Robert, the situation in French is a bit more varied. The vast majority of adjectives follows the noun. Then there are some which always come before the noun (e.g., grand, belle, nouveau, etc.). And then there are some which even change meaning depending on whether you put them before or after the noun. "Propre" means "one's own" when it vomes before the noun and "clean" when put after it. Best to study the exercises Gruff has posted.

-- Chris (who is not a native speaker).

Arman

Kwiziq community member

23 May 2017

1 reply

D'Espagne ou De l'Espagne

Do these two sentences mean different things, or is one of them incorrect ? 1. Je viens d'Espagne 2. Je viens de l'Espagne To say “the customs of Spain”: 1. Les coutumes d’Espagne 2. Les coutumes de l’Espagne To say “under the influence of Spain”: 1. Sous les influences d’Espagne 2. Sous les influences de l’Espagne.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

23 May 2017

23/05/17

Bonjour Arman !

There is indeed a difference between "d'Espagne" and "de l'Espagne".

The distinction here is between d' to express "from", or de l' which means "of [the]".
So when you express where the thing comes *from* (its origin), you'll use d', but when you want to say that thing *belongs to* this country, you'll use de l' .

Thus "je viens d'Espagne";
either "les coutumes d'Espagne" (where these customs come from) OR "les coutumes de l'Espagne" (its own customs) => here you would more colloquially say "les coutumes espagnoles";
"Sous l'influence de l'Espagne"

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Ben

Kwiziq community member

12 April 2017

1 reply

What about in addresses?

Danemark or Le Danemark on the envelope?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Bonjour Ben !

On an enveloppe, you'll simply add the name of the country on its own:
"67, rue des Lilas
45 467 PIERREVILLE
FRANCE"
(This isn't a real address.... I think!)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Bonnie

Kwiziq community member

26 January 2017

1 reply

So, "J'habitais dans le Minnesota." and "Je viens du Minnesota." ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

27 January 2017

27/01/17

Oui, Bonnie, exactement !

Bravo, continue comme ça !

Boon Hong

Kwiziq community member

24 November 2016

1 reply

what about cities? J'aime la paris. or J'aime paris

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 November 2016

25/11/16

Bonjour Boon Hong !

That's a very good question: the answer is no, you don't use articles with names of cities.
"J'aime Paris et Londres."

À bientôt !
How has your day been?