Why should we care how to say the names of all 50 states in French? Well, history, for one thing. Aside from knowing French equivalents of geographic terms that could come in handy, there's a long-standing American soft spot for all things French. Many of the French share a fascination with all things États-Unis ("United States"). We need to know their words; they, ours.
The Franco-American Alliance
The United States and France have had a deep and complex friendship since before the American Revolution, when Louis XVI's regime came to America's aid by providing money, arms, and military advisers, essential assistance best symbolized by the Marquis de Lafayette. The subsequent French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power also benefited the U.S. in 1803, "when Napoleon's woes in Europe and the Caribbean forced him to sell the entire Louisiana territory to the United States," in the words of Oxford Research Encyclopedias.
Says Oxford contributor Kathryn C. Statler, a University of San Diego historian :
Franco-American economic and cultural contacts increased throughout the 19th century, as trade between the two countries prospered and as Americans flocked to France to study art, architecture, music, and medicine. The French gift of the Statue of Liberty in the late 19th century solidified Franco-American bonds, which became even more secure during World War I. Indeed, during the war, the United States provided France with trade, loans, military assistance, and millions of soldiers, viewing such aid as repayment for French help during the American Revolution. World War II once again saw the United States fighting in France to liberate the country from Nazi control… The Franco-American alliance has been primarily amicable in nature, and when it has not, leaders and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic have moved quickly to remedy the situation. A long line of official, semi-official, and unofficial diplomats, beginning with the Marquis de Lafayette's staunch support of the American Revolution, has ensured the lasting success of the Franco-American alliance.
Today, Americans are still flocking to France for tourism and cultural enrichment, and millions of French have been coming to the US, a product of the great French love affair with la vie Américaine and its freedom, financial opportunity, blend of cultures, and ability to pick up and move whenever and wherever.
French and French Canadians Living in the United States
As of the 2010 census, there are about 10.4 million U.S. residents of French or French Canadian descent: 8,228,623 French and 2,100,842 French Canadian. Some 2 million speak French at home and 750,000 more U.S. residents speak a French-based creole language. In North America, French-based language groups, mainly in New England, Louisiana, and to a lesser extent, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Florida, and North Carolina, include Québécois, other French Canadian, Acadian, Cajun, and Louisiana Creole.
So, for all that and more, we have a vested interest in knowing what the French call all 50 states.
50 State Names in French
The list below details all 50 state names in English and French. Most states are masculine; only nine are feminine and they are indicated by (f.). Knowing the gender will help you choose the correct definite article and geographic prepositions to use with each state.
Most names are identical in both English and French, but when they do not share the same spelling, English names are provided in parentheses after the French names.
Les États-Unis d'Amérique > the United States of America
Abbreviations: É-U (US) and É-UA (USA)
- Californie (f.) (California)
- Caroline du Nord (f.) (North Carolina)
- Caroline du Sud (f.) (South Carolina)
- Dakota du Nord (North Dakota)
- Dakota du Sud (South Dakota)
- Floride (f.) (Florida)
- Géorgie (f.) (Georgia)
- Hawaï (Hawaii)
- Louisiane (f.) (Louisiana)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- l'état de New York* (New York State)
- Nouveau-Mexique (New Mexico)
- Pennsylvanie (f.) (Pennsylvania)
- Rhode Island
- Virginie (f.) (Virginia)
- Virginie-Occidentale (f.) (West Virginia)
- l'état de Washington* (Washington State)
Plus, Washington, D.C. (formerly the District of Columbia), a compact federal district under the jurisdiction of the US Congress. As such, the capital district is not part of any state. It is spelled the same in English and in French.
*These are said this way to distinguish between cities and states with the same name.