Hello and bonjour !

Today I would like to answer, as clearly as possible, a question I get asked often, regarding the French preposition and more precisely, when it comes to location. I will devise this lesson into two parts: first what preposition to use to say you are going to a place and then when coming (back) from a place. This will include a worksheet and some exercises that you can consult or download at the end of the lesson.

C’est parti !

1) To go to = aller

En + feminine countries


Je vais en France.

Tu habites en Italie.

Nous travaillons en Suisse.

More: en Allemagne (Germany), en Espagne, en Autriche, en Australie, en Angleterre, en Roumanie, en Russie, en Turquie, en Chine, en Inde...

How to determine the gender of a country?

Well, there isn't a precise rule that works every single time, but any country starting with a vowel (and singular) will be feminine. Some starting with a consonant though and that would be the exception. In doubt, choose vowel = en.

Extra: all the continent are feminine nouns. Ex: en Europe, en Afrique, en Asi, en Amérique, en Antarctique, en Océanie.

Au + masculin countries


J'habite au Mexique.

Je suis en vacances au Brésil.

Vous allez au Qatar.

More: au Japon, au Cambodge, au Portugal, au Mexique, au Canada, au Maroc, au Nigéria, au Turkménistan, au Vietnam, au Royaume-Unis

How to determine the gender - extra:

Typically, masculine countries start with a consonant, even if not all countries starting with a consonant are not masculine... Still confused? Download our list at the end of the lesson!

Aux + Plural country name


Tu habites aux Etats-Unis.

Je vais aux Antilles.

Tu voyages aux Caraïbes (Carribean)

Nous sommes aux Emirats Arabes Unis.

=> There aren't as many, this type of construction is rare.

À + cities


Je vais à Paris.

Tu habites à Tokyo.

Ils sont à Rome.

Cities with a different name:

The first mistake that I hear would be the -s in Paris that isn't pronounced in French. A few cities have a different name in French, such as: Londres (London), Pékin (Beijing).

Some name change very little:

Ex: Barcelone, Turin, Hambourg, Moscou...

Exceptions :

  • the Egyptian city of Cairo is called "Le Caire". Instead of saying "Je vais à Le Caire" we would say "Je vais au Caire".
  • Singapore is both a country and a city but in terms of French grammar is considered a city first. Therefore you would have to say "Je vais à Singapour"

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2) To come from = venir de

From + masculine countries = du


Je viens du Japon.

Tu viens du Canada.

Nous venons du Mexique.


Je viens, tu viens, il / elle / on vient, nous venons, vous venez, ils / elles viennent

From + feminine countries = de / d'


Je viens de France.

Vous ne venez pas de Malaisie.

Elles viennent d'Italie.


For plural places, use the plural form "des"

Ex: Je viens des Etats-Unis.

From + cities = de


Tu viens de New York.

Je viens de Berlin.

Il vient de Saint-Petersbourg.

Extra : to come back from.

If you want to indicate that you come back from a place (and not that it's where you're originally from), you can use the verb "revenir".
Ex: Je reviens d'Italie. Tu reviens de Paris.

And that's it for today! You can access all the worksheets fro m past lessons and more exclusive content from the resource library below or leave us a comment to request a lesson for next time. A bientôt !

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