En/au/aux = In/to with countries and continents (French Prepositions)

In French, to express in/to + [country], you can use en / au / aux  depending on the gender of the country.

Learn how to say "in/to a country" in French

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:

ConfirmJe vais en France ce weekend.I'm going to France this weekend.

ConfirmIl est en Angleterre maintenant.He's in England now.

ConfirmOn est au Portugal.We are in Portugal.

ConfirmVous allez aux États-Unis.You are going to the United States.

ConfirmIls 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

ATTENTION: 

For pronunciation reasons, you will use en with masculine countries starting with a vowel:

ConfirmMon ami Sahid vit en Iran.My friend Sahid lives in Iran.

ConfirmJ'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:

ConfirmMartine 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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Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Jacqueline Doiron of FrenchByPhone.com presents "Prepositions with names of countries" = Jacqueline Doiron de FrenchByPhone.com présent "Les prepositions et les noms de pays"
ConfirmIl est en Angleterre maintenant.He's in England now.
ConfirmOn est au Portugal.We are in Portugal.
ConfirmIls vont au Pays de Galles.They are going to Wales.
ConfirmJe vais en France ce weekend.I'm going to France this weekend.
ConfirmJe vais en Afrique l'été prochain.I'm going to Africa next summer.
ConfirmJ'ai passé mon été en Ouganda.I spent my summer in Uganda.
ConfirmMon ami Sahid vit en Iran.My friend Sahid lives in Iran.
ConfirmMartine habite au Québec.Martine lives in Quebec.
ConfirmSimon va au Mexique.Simon is going to Mexico.
ConfirmMartin habite aux Pays-Bas.Martin lives in the Netherlands.
ConfirmJe voudrais voyager en Amérique du sud.I would like to travel in South America.
ConfirmVous allez aux États-Unis.You are going to the United States.
ConfirmMon oncle vit en Asie.My uncle lives in Asia.
ConfirmCe film se passe en Inde.This film takes place in India.
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