Why is it important to pick the right preposition?
The following examples can explain why it’s important:
- Tu veux aller en Colombie?: Do you want to go to Colombia? – (En: Feminine)
- Tout le monde veut aller au Pérou: Everyone wants to go to Peru. – (Au: Masculine)
- Ils vont aux îles Malouines: They are going to the Falkland Islands. (Aux: Plural)
So, en can become au and aux. The translation in English does not change. In addition, the prepositions can also change when saying that we are from a country (based on its gender).
We’ll use en to say to:
- Je vais en Argentine: I am going to Argentina.
- Vous êtes déjà allé en Uruguay?: Did you already go to Uruguay?
Another translation for en is in:
- Tu habites en Colombie?: Do you live in Colombia?
- Non, j’habite en Bolovie: No, I live in Bolivia.
We also need to be able to say that we come from a country in the feminine form.
De is one translation to from:
- Nous venons de Colombie: We come from Colombia.
- Vous venez de Bolivie?: Do you come from Bolivia?
However, many feminine countries begin with a vowel. In this case, we need to replace de. We’ll use d’ instead:
- Je viens d’Argentine: I come from Argentina.
- Elles viennent d’Uruguay: They come from Uruguay.
Why do we change the preposition if the country begins with a vowel? It sounds better.
You can try to pronounce these 2 phrases:
- Je viens d’Argentine
- Je viens de Argentine
Number 1 will sound better, right? 🙂
We’ll use au instead of en to say to:
- Nous voulons aller au Pérou: We want to go to Peru.
- Tu veux aller au Suriname? Je veux aller au Chili: Do you want to go to Suriname? I want to go to Chili.
We can also translate au with in:
- Je connais deux hommes qui habitent au Brésil: I know two people who live in Brazil.
- Je veux habiter au Pérou: I want to live in Peru.
- J’avais une petite-amie qui habitait au Venezuela: I had a girlfriend that lived in Venezuela.
So, we’ve replaced en with au. There is a difference in pronunciation and a difference in spelling.
But we are not done yet :-). There is also a difference in the preposition that we use to say that we are from a masculine country:
- Ils viennent du Venezuela: They come from Venezuela.
- Elles viennent du Paraguay: They come from Paraguay.
We’ll also use d’ if the country that we are referring to begins with a vowel (just like in the examples with feminine countries).
- Vous venez d’Équateur: Do you come from Ecuador?
Countries in the plural form
There are not many countries in the plural form. However, they have specific rules.
Thus, it’s important to be aware of the rules if you want to sound fluent in French 🙂
We’ll use aux to say to:
- Tu veux aller aux îles Malouines: Do you want to go to the Falkland Islands?
- L’année dernière, je suis allé aux îles Malouines: Last year I went to the Falkland Islands.
We’ll also use aux to say in:
- J’ai des parents qui ont décidé de vivre aux îles Malouines: I have relatives who decided to live in the Falkland Islands.
- On veut tous habiter aux îles Malouines: We all want to live in the Falkland Islands.
We’ll use des to say from a country in the plural form:
- Nous venons des îles Malouines: We come from the Falkland Islands.
- Je viens des îles Malouines: I come from the Falkland Islands.
Last but not least, it’s not a problem if the country in the plural form begins with a vowel.
Des ends in a consonant. Thus, it does not matter if the following noun begins with a vowel.
It’s easier to refer to cities. In this case, we can always use à to say in and to.
Let me show you a couple of examples:
- Cette année, je veux aller à Varsovie: This year, I want to go to Warsaw.
- Tu m’as dit que tu habitais à Moscou?: You told me that you lived in Moscow?
- Je vais à Londres souvent. C’est ma ville préféree au monde: I go to London often, it’s my favourite city.
In addition, we’ll use de and d’ to say from a city.
I don’t think I need to explain when we need to use d’ 🙂.
- Je viens de Varsovie: I come from Warsaw.
- Ton ami vient d’Édimbourg?: Your friend comes from Edinburgh?
I’m getting closer to my goal – creating maps for every continent.
It takes time to create the maps. However, it’s even more time consuming to double check the gender of every country.
I already “know” the gender of many countries.
Why the quotation marks?
Some countries are masculine, even if you think they are feminine. For instance:
- l’Ouganda – En ouganda.
This should be a feminine country, right?
No. I thought it was before creating the African map.
Thus, it’s important to check the gender of every noun, even when I think I’m sure.
My next project is North America. It should be less time consuming than my last project – Asia.
Asia is the largest continent in the world, and there are many countries.
You are more than welcome to leave a comment if you have a question or if you found something that is incorrect in this article.