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What French prepositions go with what countries, continents, and cities?

What prepositions go with what countries, continents, and cities in French?

Embarking on the journey of learning a new language can be both exhilarating and challenging. For students that are busy studying for their Junior and Leaving Certificate exams, mastering prepositions can be an important milestone. Whether you’re in the classroom or seeking extra support through grinds, understanding which prepositions align with specific countries, continents, and cities is a game-changer in language learning. In this guide we will help providing you with a solid foundation to navigate the  French grammar with more confidence.

Prepositions in French can be a real headache. We will explain to you the rules to get to understand how it works when you talk about countries, continents or cities! 

When trying to determine which French preposition to use with a country or a continent, the only difficulty is determining the gender of that name.

1. Masculine countries : AU

It is a masculine country if it ends by a consonant or a vowel that is not an E or starts with a vowel.

Country ends with a consonant: AU

  • Je vais au Maroc = I am going to Morocco
  • Il va au Japon = he is going to Japan

Country ends with a vowel that is not an E: AU

  • Tu vas au Pérou = you are going to Peru
  • Elle va au Canada = she is going to Canada

Except: masculine countries that begin with a vowel (Iran, Irak) which take EN.

  • Nous allons en Irak = we are going to Irak
  • Ils vont en Iran = they are going to Iran
2. Feminine countries and continents: EN

It is a feminine country if it ends by E.

  • Ils vont en Allemagne = they are going to Germany
  • Vous allez en Irlande = you are going to Ireland

Most of the countries around the world end with an E

  • Exceptions: le Bélize (au bélize) / le Cambodge (au Cambodge) / le Mexique (au Mexique) / le Mozambique (au Mozambique) / le Zaïre (au Zaïre) / le Zimbabwe (au Zimbabwe).

The French names of all continents end in E, and all are feminine.

L’Afrique, l’Amérique, l’Asie, l’Europe, and l’Océanie

  • Tu voyages en Europe? = are you travelling in Europe?
  • Il va en Asie tous les ans = he is going to Asia every year
3. Plural countries: AUX

It is a plural country if it ends by S.

  • Nous allons aux États-Unis = we are going to America
  • Elles vont aux Pays-Bas = they are going to the Netherlands
  1. Cities: À
  • Je vais à Nantes la semaine prochaine = I am going to Nantes next week

Except: Le Havre, Le Caire … which take AU.

  • Ils vont au Caire = they are going to Cairo

With dedication and a clear understanding of prepositions, you’re well on your way to confidently navigating the French language.

Our French Summer Courses are an excellent opportunity for students to understand firsthand from native French speakers the correct use of prepositions and other grammar that can be hard to understand in a classroom setting. Learn more about our courses here

Keep practicing and remember, stay tuned, because we’ll keep sharing more invaluable tips to help you improve your  French, German, and Spanish language skills here at www.elc.ie .

Bonne chance! (Good luck!)

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