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French Vocabulary

United States in French

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on January 7, 2019
USA in french

The United States (of America) = Les États-Unis (d’Amérique). Ok. But what other words & acronyms do the French use to speak about the US in French? And what are the names (and genders) of the individual states in French?

Most of you know that “Les États-Unis” is how we say “United States” in French.

However, there are other options, and translating won’t always work.

1 – Les États-Unis d’Amérique = United States of America

“Les États-Unis d’Amérique” is the most precise translation used for ‘United States of America’. But it’s long, and we’re lazy… So most of the time, the French will only say “Les États-Unis”,  just like you’d say “The United States” in English.

2 – Pronunciation of “Les États-Unis”

“Les États-Unis” is a great example of liaison in French: there are two strong liaisons in “z”, one after “les” (or “des” or “aux”…) and the other one after the “s” of “états” (note that the t is silent tough). So…

  1. “Les États-Unis” is pronounced [lé zéta zuni]
  2. “Des États-Unis” is pronounced [dé zéta zuni]
  3. “Aux États-Unis” is pronounced [o zéta zuni]

Confused about when you would use “les”, “des” or “aux”? Check out my article about French prepositions of place.

French Pronunciation USA lé zéta zuni Les États-Unis

3 – Do we use the Acronym “US” or “USA” or “EU” for United States in French

The answer is a bit complicated.

In French, “ÉU” is short for “États-Unis”. The French acronym for “United States” can be spelled with or without accent “ÉU” or “EU”, with or without periods “É.U.” or “E.U.”

But the French also often use “USA” and “US” (“U.S.A”, “U.S.”)… It’s not technically French, but we use it nonetheless.

You will sometimes see “ÉUA” for “États-Unis d’Amérique”, like it was used in the Olympics.

4 – “EU” and “UE” in French

L1 + L2

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Now, in French “EU” is always for “États-Unis”, whereas in English “EU” is for ‘European Union’… You see the possible confusion!

So, if you want to talk about Europe, I suggest you either write “L’Union Européenne”, or “L’Europe” or be extra careful and write “UE”… Because if you wrote “EU” like in English, the French will understand “États-Unis” = ‘United States’…

5 – L’Amérique = America

Technically, “L’Amérique” (feminine noun) meaning ‘America’ is used for the whole American continent in French. But we often use it to just refer to the USA.

6 – Les Amériques = Americas

It’s quite old-fashioned to talk about ‘The Americas’… But the French still do: the other day (November 2018) I was interviewing people in the streets of Paimpol, Brittany, France, to ask them if they knew what this “Black Friday” sale, now popular in France was about, and where it came from. A girl in her… I don’t think she was even 20 years-old answered “Les Amériques”… I almost burst out laughing because it sounded so weird coming from such a young girl!

So, “Les Amériques” should be used to talk about North and South América (“L’Amérique du Nord” et “L’Amérique du Sud”), so again, the continents, but the French sometimes use it to refer to the USA.

7 – Do the French Ever Say “Les États” for “The US”?

In English, it’s common to refer to the US by just saying “the States”. In French, “Les États” is not used like that at all, but John H., a follower, sent me a message to say he hears it in Canada.

However in France, it’s quite hip to speak “franglish” and say something like : “et toi… tu connais les States”? – what about you, have you been to the States? Showing off your impeccable American accent (LOL!)…

8 – American in French

Let me go on a tangent a bit…

To say “American” in French, you’d say:

  • américain (nasal “in” sound) for something/someone masculine
  • américaine (rhymes with the letter “N”) for something/someone feminine

9 – Names of the US States in French

If there is nothing, the state is masculine. If there is a “la” or (f), it’s feminine (also in bold).

  1. L’Alabama
  2. L’Alaska
  3. L’Arizona
  4. L’Arkansas
  5. La Californie
  6. La Caroline du Nord
  7. La Caroline du Sud
  8. Le Colorado
  9. Le Connecticut
  10. Le Dakota du Nord
  11. Le Dakota du Sud
  12. Le Delaware
  13. La Floride
  14. La Géorgie
  15. Hawaï (Note: no article. As for the gender… long debate… masculine if you are referring to the state “l’état d’Hawaï est beau”, feminine if you are referring to the island “l’île d’Hawaï est belle”)
  16. L’Idaho
  17. L’Illinois
  18. L’Indiana
  19. L’Iowa
  20. Le Kansas
  21. Le Kentucky
  22. La Louisiane
  23. Le Maine
  24. Le Maryland
  25. Le Massachusetts
  26. Le Michigan
  27. Le Minnesota
  28. Le Mississippi
  29. Le Missouri
  30. Le Montana
  31. Le Nebraska
  32. Le Nevada
  33. Le New Hampshire
  34. Le New Jersey
  35. l’État de New York
  36. Le Nouveau-Mexique
  37. L’Ohio
  38. L’Oklahoma
  39. L’Orégon
  40. La Pennsylvanie
  41. Le Rhode Island
  42. Le Tennessee
  43. Le Texas
  44. L’Utah
  45. Le Vermont
  46. La Virginie
  47. La Virginie-Occidentale
  48. L’État de Washington
  49. Le Wisconsin
  50. Le Wyoming

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