Learn French Prepositions with Geographical Names

Men looking at map along Seine River, Paris

Tom Merton / Getty Images

Deciding which French preposition to use with countries, cities, and other geographical names can be somewhat confusing, at least until now! This lesson will explain which prepositions to use and why.

Gendered Nouns

Like all French nouns, geographical names like countries, states, and provinces have a gender. Knowing the gender of each geographical name is the first step in determining which preposition to use. As a general guideline, geographical names which end in e are feminine, while those that end in any other letter are masculine. There are, of course, exceptions which simply have to be memorized. See the individual lessons for explanations of the gender of each geographical name.


In English, we use three different prepositions with geographical names, depending on what we are trying to say.

  • Je vais en France
    I'm going to France
  • Je suis en France
    I'm in France
  • Je suis de France
    I'm from France

However, in French numbers 1 and 2 take the same preposition. Whether you are going to France or you are in France, the same preposition is used. Thus in French there are only two prepositions to choose from for each type of geographical name. The difficulty lies in knowing which preposition to use for a city vs a state vs a country.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Learn French Prepositions with Geographical Names." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/french-prepositions-geographical-names-4084853. Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). Learn French Prepositions with Geographical Names. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-prepositions-geographical-names-4084853 Team, ThoughtCo. "Learn French Prepositions with Geographical Names." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-prepositions-geographical-names-4084853 (accessed June 5, 2023).