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French Language – Voilà or Il y a Posted by on Mar 17, 2009 in Grammar

Voilà is one of my favorite expressions in French.  It just seems so French and much more appealing than its English equivalents: ‘there is’ and ‘there are’.  However, you must be careful because Il y a has the same English translation so to speak, but the meaning or useage is different.  Voilà is used as if you are pointing to the object(s) you are talking about, whereas Il y a simply states the existence of the object(s) you are talking about.  One practical example that you can use in an email is: Voilà, ci-joint la liste. (You can replace the underlined part with anything you are attaching).  Here are some other examples to show the difference between the two expressions.

Il y a beaucoup de couples ici. (There are a lot of couples here.)
Regardez, voilà, Madame et Monsieur Dupont.  (Look, there’s Mrs. and Mr. Dupont.)

Il y a un magasin de chaussures par ici.  (There’s a shoe store nearby.)
Est-ce qu’il y a des grandes chaussures ?  (Are there large-size shoes?)
Voilà, la pointure que vous cherchez. (There’s the size you’re looking for.)

Il y a des marchés en France.  (There are markets in France.)
Voilà, le marché aux pouces de la Port de Vanves.   (There’s the Port de Vanves flea market.)

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Comments:

  1. Chris Swindin:

    Nice clear distinction between Voilà and Il y a, but one of your examples contains two surprising errors: le marché aux PUCES is located by the PORTE de Vanves – nothing to do with thumbs or ports. I’m amazed no-one has pointed this out in the six years since it was posted. And it would be better to have omitted the comma between voilà and Madame in the first example.

    Merci de votre compréhension!