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Which State/Province Are You From? Expressing Location in French Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Grammar, Vocabulary

I’ve been writing about prepositions with certain verbs lately, but today I’d like to discuss prepositions referring to American states and Canadian provinces (still worth reading if you’re not from those places – can never have too much grammar 😉 )

A while back, we wrote a post on how to say you’re from, living in, or going to a country or city. You can and should the whole post here, but for a TL;DR summary:

If the country is masculine and starts with a consonant:
to/in: au
from: du

If the country is masculine and starts with a vowel:
to/in: en
from: d’

If the country is feminine:
to/in: en
from: de/d’

If the county is plural:
to/in: aux
from: des

For singular cities/islands:
to/in: à*
from: de/d’

For a plural island:
to/in: aux
from: des

* = There are 2 exceptions to this: Avignon (#9) and Arles, which can use en. You’ll hear à more often, though.

*****

Ok, so now that we’re an expert on that, let’s move on to how you say the same, but from an American state or Canadian province. The rules are similar, but some of the prepositions may change.

First and foremost, to know which preposition to use, you need to know if the state or province. Of the 50 states, 9 are feminine. Of the 13 provinces, 6 are feminine. I’ve included a list below the rules.

So here’s how it goes:

Masculine state/province beginning with a consonant:
to/in: dans le OR au
from: du

Masculine state/province starts with a vowel:
to/in: dans l’ OR en
from: de l‘ OR d’

Feminine state/province:
to/in: en
from: de

Are there exceptions? Mais bien sûr, c’est le français (of course, this is French!)!

The two exceptions are New York and Washington. Can you guess why?

It’s to distinguish the state from the city with the same name. For the states, you’d say

dans/de l’état de Washington
dans/de l’état de New York

*****

So for my own personal story, I could say:

Je suis né en Virginie, mais j’ai grandi en Virginie-Occidentale. Maintenant, j’habite en Californie à San Francisco.  (I was born in Virginia, but I grew up in West Virginia. Now I live in San Francisco, California.)

L’année dernière pour mon anniversaire, je suis allé dans l’état de New York pour voir la comédie-musicale Wicked. Cette année, je vais dans le Nevada pour visiter Las Vegas.  (Last year for my birthday, I went to New York to see the musical Wicked. This year, I’m going to Nevada to visit Las Vegas.)

*****

Here are the states. Those with a single asterisk beside them are feminine. I’ve also included a translation of the states whose names are a little different in French.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
*Californie (California)
*Caroline du Nord (North Carolina)
*Caroline du Sud (South Carolina)
Colorado
Connecticut
Dakota du Nord (North Dakota)
Dakota du Sud (South Dakota)
Delaware
*Floride (Florida)
*Géorgie (Georgia)
Hawaï (Hawaii)
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
*Louisiane (Louisiana)
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
l’état de New York** (New York)
Nouveau-Mexique (New Mexico)
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
*Pennsylvanie (Pennsylvania)
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
*Virginie (Virginia)
*Virginie-Occidentale (West Virginia)
l’état de Washington** (Washington)
Wisconsin
Wyoming

** = see the note above!

 

And for the Canadian provinces:

*Alberta
*Colombie-Britannique (British Columbia)
*l’île du Prince-Édouard (Prince Edward Island)
Manitoba
(territoires du) Nord-Ouest  (Northwest Territories)
Nouveau-Brunswick (New Brunswick)
*Nouvelle-Écosse (Nova Scotia)
Nunavut
Ontario
Québec (Quebec)
*Saskatchewan
*Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador (Newfoundland and Labrador)
(territoire du) Yukon (Yukon (Territory))

*****

So readers, tell me about yourself! Where are you from? Where have you traveled?

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!


Comments:

  1. S Kenzle:

    Je suis né en Alberta. Maintenant, j’habite en Texas.

  2. Dino:

    It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied
    that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please
    keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. apaula:

    L’année dernière pour mon anniversaire, je suis allé dans l’état de New York pour voir la comédie-musicale Wicked. Cette année, je vais dans le Nevada l’année prochaine pour visiter Las Vegas. (Last year for my birthday, I went to New York to see the musical Wicked. This year, I’m going to Nevada to visit Las Vegas.)

    Is it me,or the translation is wrong..Please help.I am confused
    Cette année(this year)
    L’année prochaine (next year)

  4. Josh Dougherty:

    Apaula, thank you! I reread it and saw it made 0 sense. You can’t have cette année and l’année prochaine together describing the same time. I must have started another sentence and changed it later and missed it during editing. Thank you again 🙂

  5. Hugo ly:

    Great
    I really like tour post.
    Thank you