The French prepositions for cities and countries follow some rules that you have to learn and repeat until it becomes automatic. I often hear some mistakes regarding these prepositions. It's easier than you think. Read this lesson, and it will be clear!


For instance in English we use "in", but in French, you have four possibilities. The possibilities depends on if you are talking about a city or a country. For countries, we use three different prepositions because of the use of gener-words in French: they can be feminine, masculine, or plural.



Prepositions For Cities


Saying any city in French, we would use the preposition "à" (in English, it could be ‘in, or at or to’). For example:




I live in Paris

J'habite à Paris

You live in New York

Tu habites à New York

She/He lives in Pokhara

Elle, il habite à Pokhara

We live in Berlin

Nous habitons à Berlin

You live in London

Vous habitez à Londres

They live in Tokyo

Ils , elles habitent à Tokyo



So, you got it? For all the cities you have to use "à", with the exception of only two cities in the world, which instead we will say:


  • au Cap 
  • au Caire



Prepositions For Countries


Now, regarding how you say country names in French, there are feminine, masculine or plural sayings. For example: France is said in feminine i.e. La France; while Brazil is said in a masculine i.e. Le Brésil; the United States is said in plural i.e. Les Etats-Unis.


  • For countries said in feminine, we use the preposition "en", for example: en France (in France).
  • For masculine sayings, we use the preposition "au", for example: au Brésil. 
  • For plural sayings, we use "aux", for example: aux Etats-Unis.



Pays féminin

Pays masculin

Pays pluriel


En France


Au Népal


Aux Etats-Unis


Now you’re wondering how you can tell if the country is to be said in feminine, masculine or plural? Let’s take a look!



Feminine Countries


Have endings with the letter "e", except for two countries (Le Cambodge and Le Mexique). For instance: en Russie (in Russia), en Corée (in Corea), en Serbie (in Serbia), en Roumanie (in Romania), en Suisse (in Switzerland), etc.


  • The first letter of the country is a vowel.


For instance: en Angleterre (in England), en Irlande (in Ireland), en Italie (in Italia), en Uruguay (in Uruguay), en Australie (in Australia), etc.


An example saying can be:

  • Elle va à Dublin, en Irlande.
  • She goes to Dublin, in Ireland. 


Pays féminin


Avec un "e" à la fin (with "e" letter at the ending)

Commençant par une voyelle (starting with a vowel)



Plural Countries


Plural countries end with "s", and most of these cases are rare encounters. But in this case, we would use the preposition "aux" i.e. aux Etats-Unis, aux Pays-bas. For example:


  • Nous sommes à Amsterdam aux Pays-Bas.
  • We're in Amsterdam in Netherlands


Pays pluriel

Qui se termine par un "s"

Ending with "s"



Masculine Countries


Masculine country names do not end with the letter "e" (except for Mexico and Cambodia), and do not start with a vowel nor not end with "s". When you are speaking about a masculine country, you have to use the preposition "au". In south America and Asia, we find a lot of masculine countries such as: au Pérou (In Peru), au Mexique (in Mexico), au Népal (in Nepal), and au Japon (In Japan).


For example you would say:

  • Ils ont des amis à Lima au Pérou.
  • They have friends in Lima Peru. 


Pays masculin


ne se termine pas par "e"

not end with "e" letter

ne commence pas par une voyelle

not start with a vowel

ne se termine pas par "s"

not end with "s" letter



So, let's review!


  • ville+à= à Paris
  • pays féminin =en France
  • pays masculin + au= au Japon
  • pays pluriel = aux pays bas


To help you, I made a YouTube video where I explain this. If you have any questions, post a comment, i will be happy to answer it!

An other confusion is with the word "une place". In French, it doesn't mean "a place" but it means "a square". To speak about a place, you have to use the words: un lieu or un endroit. So, if you want to say:

  • "I visit a place in Bordeaux in France."

It will be...

  • "Je visite un endroit/un lieu à Bordeaux en France."


To speak fluently French, you have to practice almost every day. I have a Facebook page where you can comment on my post about the French language and French culture, and I may correct you! You are very welcome!


Hero image by Jace Grandinetti on Unsplash