When learning French, you usually learn the name of a number of countries fairly early and then build up on your first list of countries as time goes on.
If you are reading this blog post, you have probably already learnt the names of a few countries. But now, you are wondering, how can you know which countries are feminine and which are masculine?
As a general rule, countries that end in -e are feminine:
- la France, l’Angleterre, la Chine, l’Argentine, l’Algérie, la Colombie, la Mauritanie, l’Inde
All other countries are masculine:
- le Nigéria, le Brésil, le Canada, le Japon, le Danemark, le Maroc, le Liban, le Pakistan, le Pérou
Of course, since we are talking about the French language, there are a few exceptions. Remember these 6 countries:
- le Belize, le Cambodge, le Mexique, le Mozambique, le Suriname, le Zimbabwe.
Some regions or countries take their name after a common noun. In that case, you will have to use the article that matches the gender of the noun:
- le Royaume Uni, is masculine because the noun royaume (kingdom) is masculine in French.
- La Réunion doesn’t end in -e but the common noun réunion is feminine, so the country has the same gender, regardless of the final letter.
Careful though, here is the tricky part: the common noun is sometimes implied and not part of the name itself:
For example, Madagascar is not used with an article but is feminine even if it does not end in -e, but that’s because it is an island –une île– and what is really meant even if not uttered is l’île de Madagascar.
As I said, Madagascar is not used with an article. Here are some examples of other countries whose name is used without an article:
- Bahreïn, Chypre, Cuba, Haïti, Israël, Malte, Monaco, Sainte-Lucie, Saint-Marin, Singapour, Sri Lanka
Some countries are plural:
Les États-Unis d’Amérique, les Seychelles, les Philippines, les îles Féroé, les Pays-Bas…
These are named after the common noun –état (state), pays (country), île (island, isle)– and the countries in question are a set of various states, lands or islands, hence the use of the plural.
General rule Country name ending in -e Country name ending in another letter 6 exceptions: final -e but masculine féminin masculin le Belize, le Cambodge,
le Mexique, le Mozambique,
le Suriname, le Zimbabwe.
Now that you know if the name of a country is masculine or feminine, make sure you know what preposition to use in front of it.
There you are! You now know what gender are countries of the world in French. Congratulations! 😉