French Language Blog

Avoiding repetition: y and en Posted by on Aug 13, 2021 in Language


Transparent Language Online has recently added 64 French grammar lessons. Each lesson are 20 minutes each, which means we now have over 21 hours of grammar learning! If you’d like to check them out, click here.

Let’s look at two of our newest lessons on avoiding repetition by using the pronouns y and en.

The pronoun en is used to avoid repetition and usually can be translated as some or any. The pronoun en generally replaces the construction de + noun when referring to an object or a thing.

Je parle de ce problème. – I’m talking about this problem.

J’en parle. – I’m talking about it.

The pronoun en is often used to replace nouns that are preceded by expressions of quantity, such as beaucoup de, trop de, assez de, and un peu de. The pronoun en is also used to replace nouns preceded by a partitive article (du, de la, de l’, des) or a number (un, deux, etc.). Be sure to keep the expression of quantity if there is one indicated!

Tu as beaucoup de travail ? Oui, j’en ai beaucoup. – Do you have a lot of homework? Yes, I have enough (of it.)

Roger boit du café ? Oui, il en boit. – Roger drinks coffee? Yes, he drinks it.

Vouz mangez deux pommes ? Oui, j’en mange deux. – Are you eating two apples? Yes, I am eating two (of them.)

The pronoun y is used to avoid repetition and most often represents a location or inanimate things.

1. In the case of location, translate y as there.

Je vais à la plage. – I’m going to the beach.

J’y vais. – I’m going there.

2. In the case of inanimate things, translate y as it.

Je pense aux devoirs. – I’m thinking about homework.

J’y pense. – I’m thinking about it.

To identify if y is the correct pronoun to use, take a close look at the prepositions. Below is a list of common prepositions that lead to a prepositional phrase that should usually be replaced by the pronoun y.

à, chez, dans, derrière, devant, en, sur

On est à l’aéroport. On y est. – We are at the airport. We are there.

Elle est devant l’église. Elle y est. – She is behind the church. She is there.

Il est chez le dentiste. Il y est. – He is at the dentists. He is there.

Can you transform the following sentences using the pronouns en or y? Try in the comments below!

Nous avons des amis.

Tu vas souvent au café.

Vous buvez deux verres de vin.

Elle est allée à Paris.

Vous buvez de l’eau.

Elle cherches des raisons.

Tu as beaucoup de chance.

Il est allé chez le dentiste.

Je pense à ma vie.

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.