We know that countries and continents have genders in French [see Continents, countries, regions & states are masculine, feminine or plural (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 Using 'à' (to/in) and 'de' (from/of) with cities (prepositions), it's a bit more complicated when it comes to countries.
Have a look at these examples:
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:
- aux is used with plural countries
Note that Le Québec behaves like a country, even though it's a province:
See also the related lesson: En, dans = In, to with regions, states, counties (prepositions)
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"