When traveling, the first thing people often ask you is where you’re from. Of course, you could always say your state in English and probably be understood. But it’s interesting to think about the way place names change across cultures. For example, London becomes Londres in French. Paying attention to these small details will elevate your level of French speaking and understanding.

Here’s how I learned to easily remember the names and genders for all the US states.


Step 1

Learn the gender of each state. Only 9 of the 50 US states are feminine! If in doubt, go with masculine and you’ll be right more often than not.

All of the feminine states have a different spelling (more on this in Step 2). They are:

Caroline du Sud
Virginie Virginie de l'ouest
Floride Louisiane

Another way to remember the gender is that all feminine states end with an “e.”  Naturally, there are 5 pesky exceptions of the masculine states which end in “e” also. I think it’s easiest to commit the 9 feminine states to memory, rather than memorize the exceptions separately. But just in case you’d like to know, they are: Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Tennessee, and Nouveau-Mexique.

 


Step 2

Learn how to say the state names. Only 15 of the 50 states have a different spelling; most are only slightly different. These include all 9 feminine states above, plus these 6 masculine states:

Nouveau-Mexique Dakota du Sud
l'état de Washington l'état de New York Hawaï

“L’état de” (the state of) is used to differentiate these states from New York City and Washington, D.C.

The rest of the masculine states are just the plain old US names, spoken with a French accent, of course! For example, “Iowa” is pronounced “EE-owa.”

So out of 50 states, learning a mild variation from the English for just 15 of them isn’t too bad!

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Step 3

Put it all together to say where you’re from. Remember that de means “from,” but it changes to du when combined with the masculine article. When preceding a state that starts with a vowel, it becomes de l’

Examples:

    Je viens du Texas.   (de + le Texas = du)
    Je suis de la Floride.   (de + la = de la)
    Je viens de l’Iowa.   (de + le + vowel)
    J’habite au Missouri.   (à + le = au)

I created a PDF chart and map you can download for free, to help you learn these.

US States in French chart and map

Click image above to download PDF