FR: in Arizona


USA- English
Something that I find confusing about French is when to use en, dans or à, such as in the following sentence.
He lives far away in Arizona-
Il habite au loin en Arizona (Arizonie?) or should it be
Il habite au loin à Arizona or is this totally wrong?
There must be some kind of rule for this type of usage or do you just have to memorize which preposition goes with which verb?
Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
  • Sylva

    Senior Member
    Belgium - French
    I would say: "Il habite loin en Arizona".

    If you say only "He lives far away", the French translation is: "Il habite au loin" or "il habite loin" (and "au loin"/"loin" is considered as an adverb). BUT... if you say:"He lives far away in Arizona", "loin" in French becomes determined by something else, thus we have "loin en Arizona". Your first sentence is however not wrong, but I would put a comma, to separate "au loin" and "en Arizona". The meaning is then: He is living abroad, namely: in Arizona. I hope it's clear... :) with my poor English... :(

    Concerning "Arizona": since "Arizona" is the name of a region (it would be the same for a country), we have "en" in French: "J'habite en Arizona, en Flandres, en Amazonie, en Galilée, en Californie; en France, en Allemagne, en Irlande, etc.". BUT... :( unfortunately, there are a lot of exceptions: aux Pays Bas et aux Etats-Unis (which are plural), au Mexique, au Mali, au Congo, etc... I don't know if there are rules... And "à" is used to refer to cities: "à Paris, à New York, à Pékin, à Port-au-Prince, etc.". For cities whose name begins by "le", we use "au": "au Havre, au Caire".

    When writing this answer, I notice that it's very difficult... :eek: ...

    Good luck...

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    scandalously in love

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    The way I was taught was that for countries, states, provinces, regions, they are in fact grouped into masculine and feminine. You use en for feminine or vowel-starting place names and au (or aux ) for masculine place names. As for figuring out if a place is masculine or feminine, you can guess with the typical rules, but there are always exceptions, as usual....

    En France
    En Columbie-Britannique
    En Chine
    Au Québec
    Aux États-unis

    à is used for cities and islands.

    À Hawaii
    À L'île-aux-coudres
    À Chicago
    À Paris
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    USA- English
    Merci Sylva & SIL-
    That was a big help. I find that when I listen to my audio lessons and do my readings I feel I am doing really well. But when it comes to writing & speaking I realize how much of a beginner I really am :(