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

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.


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!


Q&A

Paul

Kwiziq community member

4 August 2018

2 replies

Cornwall, which in French is translated as la or les Cornouailles

Hello, Is it entirely optional to use la or les Cornouailles, or are there situations where you use one or the other?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

7 August 2018

7/08/18

Hi Paul,


As La Cornouaille is a part of Brittany with Quimper as its capital (also known as  la Cornouaille bretonne), Cornwall  is normally known in France as Les Cornouailles to distinguish them from each other.


if you say:  "Je vais en Cornouialles pour mes vacances cet été" , it might sound ambiguous but with the context it would be clear , I think.


Hope this helps!


 

Paul

Kwiziq community member

7 August 2018

7/08/18

That's fascinating Cécile. I didn't know about the two Cornwall's/Cornouille(s). Thank you for the explanation.

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 !
Let me take a look at that...