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Could someone tell me the correct preposition to use in the sentence, "My mother is going to India." Google translates it as " Ma mère va à l'Inde." It just doesn't sound right. Thanks.

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I am pretty sure  you should say "aller en Inde" although you can also say "aller aux Indes" .

I am not sure if they have exactly the same meaning ,though.

Thanks George. I'm getting really confused here; when I type in the full sentence "my mother is going to India", google gives me "ma mère va à l'Inde", but when I type just "to India", it translates it as "en Inde" and if I reverse the translator from French to English and input "va aux Indes", it also translates it as "goes to India".

When I "research"  via Google  and there are two alternate possibilities  I pate them both into Google as a complete phrase in quotation marks.

As a rough guide one  of the alternatives will bring up more returns than the other. This is not conclusive  since  it only shows how often the phrase has been separately indexed in the Google cache.

However the difference in returns can often be very obvious  .

For example ""aller a l'inde"" has only 7  returns  but "aller en inde" has 163,000 and so it is very clear which is correct (I already knew this but I wanted it to be confirmed )

Google is a good research tool but is not infallible  and you may get  more accurate answers from fellow posters ,some of whom are native  French speakers and there is always Neil Coffey  who is ,in my opinion very authoritative and interesting. 

Hi Joël and George.

George, your comment is perfect. So, it's useless to add other grammar explanations.

I place here just a short adding to explain why French people use sometimes yet “aux Indes” instead of “en Inde” ( and why it's yet referenced by the Google engine, for instance )

- “en Inde” : It's the perfect usage and is commonly used by everybody.

- “aux Indes” : This fixed expression is very old. It dates for the French and Britain colonies period. For a long time, the colons considered the India's area like several districts not united. That is why “aux” and “Indes” are conjugated with the plural shape, in contradiction to “en Inde” who just means “in India” because, nowadays, the India is more united and became a unique nation.

Finally, this usage also exist concerning "les Amériques" regarding to the time that Christopher Columbus discovers a new continent.


You should definitively say "en Inde".

As Stevo pointed, "aux Indes" is grammaticaly correct. It's exactly the same thing as "en Inde" but with a plural form, and so anachronistic.

Now why can't you say "aller à l'Inde" ?  The simplest way to explain this rule is to say that in french "Aller à" usually refers to a  functionnal place or a place considered from a functionnal point of view : aller à la boulangerie, à l'école, à la mer...

With a geograpical word, you should use "en" (en Espagne, en Californie) or "au" if this term is masculine (au Portugal, au Brésil, au Mont Blanc).

You may have noticed there's no absolute logic in this (were're in semantics), since "au" is basically the contraction of "à le"; And you can say "aller à la mer Méditerranée" even if it's a geographic name, because if you say "en mer méditerranée" (it's correct too), you mean that you're on the sea and not beside it...have fun !


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