Names of Countries in French: Masculine Feminine Articles

Masculine Feminine Definite Articles with the Names of Countries in French

When evoking the names of countries in French, you will usually use a definite French masculine, feminine or plural article (le / la / les) to go with it.

It means that when speaking about a specific country, let's take France and Germany for example, you will need to say " l'Allemagne" but not "Allemagne" and "la France" and not just "France". Example: 

  • A: Quel est le nom du pays à l'est de la France ? What's the name of the country east of France ? 
  • B: C'est l'Allemagne. It's Germany. 

However if you are interested in expressing in French the idea of going to a country, city or continent (Eg. Je suis à Paris, Je vais en Russie, Je vis aux Etats-Unis), you should check the "à", "en" and "aux" lesson. 

When Use the Definite Article ? 

In general, you must use a definite article in front of the names of countries, continents, mountains, seas, lakes and rivers. Some of the frequent usage examples:  

 

  • On va visiter les Pyrénées. We are going to visit the Pyrenees. 
  • Le Canada se trouve au nord des Etats-Unis, dans l'Amérique du Nord. Canada is in the North of the United States, in North America. 
  • La Seine est un fleuve qui traverse Paris. The Seine is a river that runs through Paris.

There are of course some exceptions, which means certain names of countries won't use the definite article. Some of the very famous examples: 

Exceptions:

  • Nous sommes à Monaco. (au Monaco: à + le = au) We are in Monaco. 
  • Elle vit à Singapour. She lives in Singapour. 
  • Il vient de Cuba. (du Cuba: de + le = du) He comes from Cuba. 

An interesting case is when talking about the origin of something (the use of the "de" preposition). The surprising thing is that sometimes you use "de" plus the definite article or not, it depends. For example: 

  • Les vins de France et d'italie
  • but Les vins des Etats-Unis. (de + les = des

That is something that makes the French language complicated. But don't worry. Just try to remember which of the most frequent names of countries in French are masculine or feminine. In most you will eiter automatically deduce whether you should or shouln't use the artilce, or try to express the thing in such a way that you are certain is correct. For example, instead of saying "Les vins de France et d'Italie", you will just say "les vins français et italiens". That's one of the learning  and communication strategies, by the way. Good look ! 

List Frequent Names of Countries and Their Articles

Article  (masc. / fem.) Country Preposition
 la l'Afrique du Sud en Afrique du Sud
 la l'Algérie en Algérie. 
 la l'Allemagne en Allemagne
 la l'Arabie saoudite en Arabie saoudite
 la la Belgique en Belgique
 le le Brésil au Brésil
 la la Chine en Chine
 la la Corée du Nord en Corée du Nord
 la l'Espagne en Espagne
 les (masculine)  les Etats-Unis aux Etats-Unis
 la la France en France
 la l'Italie en Italie
 le le Maroc au Maroc
 no article Monaco à Monaco
 les (masculine) les Pays-Bas aux Pays-Bas
 le le Royaume-Uni au Royaume-Uni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more examples, check out this page (in French) where you have the complete list of countries with their corresponding articles.  

Don't forget to do the exercice to anchor these things in your memory. 

Exercises

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Names of Countries in French Definite Article Masculine Feminine

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