French adverbial pronouns - en, y
There are two adverbial pronouns (French: les pronoms adverbiaux) in the French language: y and en. In general, they are considered as adverbs but practically used as pronouns.
The pronouns en and y basically do not refer to people. How we translate them into English depends on where en and y are found in French.
- en and y usually are placed in front of the verb
- in orders and instructions they come after the verb
The definition of the pronoun en
En is used with verbs and phrases that are normally followed by de to avoid repeating the same word. Translated into the English language it can mean: of it, of them, from it, from them, from there, some or any.
Usage of the pronoun en
1. as a kind of preposition.
- Nous venons de Paris. (We come from Paris.)
- Nous en venons. (We come from there.)
2. as a kind of partitive.
- J'ai du pain. (I have some bread.)
- J'en ai. (I have some.)
3. with expressions that are followed by de.
- Elle parle de ce livre. (She speaks about this book.)
- Elle en parle. (She speaks about it.)
4. with expressions of quantity.
- Il a beaucoup d'argent. (He has a lot of money.)
- Il en a beaucoup. (He has a lot of it.)
The definition of the pronoun y
Y is used with verbs and phrases that are normally followed by à to avoid repeating the same word. Moreover it can also mean there and can be used to replace phrases that would use prepositions such as dans (in) or sur (on).
Usage of the pronoun y
- Je vais à la gare. (I am going to the railroad station.)
J'y vais. (I am going there.)
- Elle est dans le salon. (She is in the living room.)
- Elle y est. (She is there.)
When y stands for a thing or idea and follows a verb which requires à, it's translated by it or them.
- Il répond à la lettre. (He answers the latter.)
Il y répond. (He answers it.)
- Il obéit aux lois. (He obeys the laws.)
- Il y obéit. (He obeys them.)
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