When you take a test, later in your learning path, you will, without a doubt, be asked a question based on how well you know which preposition to use with each country. This type of question is popular because it tests two areas of knowledge at the same time. The first is being able to identify a country’s gender, and the second is being able to choose the correct preposition.
1. Thomas part en vacances … Canada. (au/à/en)
Answer: au, Canada is masculine, so “au” is used. If the country is feminine, “en” is used. Most countries that end in a soft “e” are feminine, i.e. France.
2. Je vis … Irlande depuis deux ans. (au/en/à)
Answer: en, If the country is feminine, “en” is used. Most countries that end in a soft “e” are feminine, i.e. Irlande.
To help other students with this unique French obstacle, this interactive map was created:
While using this map, keep in mind:
Nearly all countries that end in e are feminine and the rest are masculine. There are several exceptions, because this is French after all:
- le Belize
- le Cambodge
- le Mexique
- le Mozambique
- le Zaïre
- le Zimbabwe
All continents end in e and all are feminine.
Masculine and plural countries take à or de plus the appropriate definite article. Except for masculine countries that begin with a vowel, which take en to mean to/in and d’ to mean from.
Feminine countries and continents take en or de with no article. If you create a matrix for these rules, it would look like this:
|Country is:||To or In||From|
|masculine and starts with consonant||au||du|
|masculine and starts with vowel||en||d’|
|feminine||en||de / d’|
If I were a student, I’d practice recreating this matrix a few times, dump it on scratch paper, and know that I had any question related to these concepts, nailed.