FR: city + state + country - punctuation

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by LarryUSA, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. LarryUSA New Member

    American English
    Hi everyone,

    I have a question regarding French punctuation in place names, especially in places with more than two locale levels, and in particular in address forms.

    For example, I know French differs from English in that, English would say:

    Brussels, Belgium

    and French would say:

    Bruxelles, au Belgique

    But, what about punctuation where it concerns multiple levels, such as in English we would say:

    Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    But for French, I've seen the following:

    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

    Montréal, Québec, Canada (as generally used in English)

    Montréal, Québec (Canada)

    Montréal (Québec), Canada

    I know this seems somewhat trivial, but which is proper and which is generally used and why? Thanks in advance. :)

  2. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Well, in Europe—unlike in the US—we usually don't specify the state and country; we just write the city. If there is a possibility of confusion or if the city is not well-known, we add the country with the corresponding preposition or possibly put the country name in parenthesis. Hence we would write:

    à Bruxelles [no country specified because it is obvious]
    à Montréal [no country specified because it is obvious]
    à Laval en France or: à Laval (France)

    PS: Welcome to the forums, Larry! :)
  3. Smithy73 Senior Member

    English - England
    It's a very American thing to say "Atlanta, Georgia", "London, England" and "Paris, France".
  4. LarryUSA New Member

    American English
    Thanks for the welcome! :)

    @smithy73, Yes I know, but nevertheless I see in terms of either postal addresses or as locators in stories, and I was curious as to specifically what the proper punctuation is, and what is more common.
  5. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Here's one situation where it might be necessary to provide extra information about a location:

    In France, there are a number of towns that have the same name. To identify a town clearly -- perhaps because it's one of these towns that share a name, perhaps because the town is very small and unheard of, etc. -- information about the département will be added, either by adding "en/dans le/etc. + département" into the sentence in a natural place (often after the name of the town), or by putting the department number in parenthesis after the name of the town. Most of the time, it is obvious from context that the country in question is France, and so country information is not added.

    Obviously I'm not talking about mailing addresses here, but about other situations where you might need to identify a location.

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