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The Gender Of Countries in French

May 11, 2023

If you're learning French, you've probably realized that every noun in the language has a gender - either masculine or feminine. What you may not know is that this gender assignment also extends to countries. That's right - in French, every country has a gender! But how do you know whether a country is masculine or feminine? In today's blog post, we'll answer this question.


➤ Gender rules for countries in French


The gender of a country in French is generally determined by its ending. Here are the general rules to follow: 

1. Most countries ending in -e are feminine.

Examples: la France (France), l'Algérie (Algeria), la Chine (China)

2. Most countries with other endings are masculine.

Examples: le Canada (Canada), le Japon (Japan), le Brésil (Brazil)

3. There are some exceptions to these rules, remember these 6 countries by heart:

le Belize (Belize), le Cambodge (Cambodia), le Mexique (Mexico), le Mozambique (Mozambique), le Suriname (Suriname), le Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).

4. Some countries are plural.

Examples: les États-Unis (the United States), les Seychelles (Seychelles), les Philippines (Philippines), les îles Féroé (Faroe Islands), les Pays-Bas (Netherlands)


➤ Why does the gender of countries matter?


Understanding the gender of countries is important for a few reasons. First, it affects the way you use articles in French. As you may know, French articles (such as lela and les) must agree in gender and number with the noun they modify. So, if you're talking about a country, you'll need to use the correct article - le for masculine countriesla for feminine countries and les for plural countries. Secondly, it will tell you how to say in or to before the country:

  • au + masculine countries
  • en + feminine countries
  • aux + plural countries

Here are some examples:

  • Je vais en France. (I'm going to France.)
  • J'habite au Canada. (I live in Canada.)
  • Nous déménageons aux États-Unis. (We are moving to the United States.)


➤ Conclusion


Remember that countries ending in -e are usually feminine and all other countries are usually masculine. Memorize the 6 exceptions by heart and you will always get the right gender! Once you know the right gender, it is easy for you to use the right article: le / au + masculine countries, la / en + feminine countries and les / aux + plural countries.

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