Pronouns –en and –y in French. Part 2.

First part.

In this article, we will continue the topic of pronouns –en and –y, namely their use in French.

The pronoun  Y

If you remember, the pronoun –en replaces everything that starts with –D (d ’, de, de la, du, des), but y replaces everything that starts with A (à, au). When translating, we often use the word - "there". Also, y replaces inanimate nouns with the prepositions à, sur, dans, en, à cela. Now we will consider all cases in detail and visually.

Case 1. Location

Paul va à Lyon. Il y va en voiture

Paul is going to Lyon, He is going there by car.

Anne habite à Lisbonne. Elle y habite depuis un an

Anna lives in Lisbonne. She has been living there for a year. 

Tu pars en France cet été ? Oui, je vais y aller au mois de juillet !

Are you going to France this summer? - Yes, I am going there

Nous mettons nos cahiers sur le bureau.  Nous y mettons nos cahiers

We put our notebooks on the table. We put our notebooks there

Je suis chez moi. J'y suis jusqu'à six heures

I am at home, I am there (here) till 6. 

Case 2. Inanimate objects with the preposition à

Je pense à mon pays. J'y pense souvent

I think about my country. I think about it. 

Je participe à ce projet. J'y participe

I take part in this project. I take part in it. 

Elle ne répond pas à ma lettre. Elle n'y répond pas

She doesn’t answer my letter. She doesn’t answer it. 

Tu joues au football ? Oui, j'y joue

Do you play football? - Yes, I do. I play it. 

What is important to remember here? That –y replaces an INANIMATE object. And as you can see, when translating we use English prepositions - in, to, about, etc. Here's an interesting example: Je pense à Michel. Je pense à lui. I hope you have carefully read the beginning of this article and the heading ofCase 2. Michelle is an animate noun ("alive"), so in order not to repeat his name, I and the French use a pronoun. Be extremely careful - think before you say.

And to finish the topic here are a couple of idiomatic expressions:

  1. Je ne suis pas responsable: je n'y suis pour rien. - I am not in charge. I am here for no reason . Usually, this phrase is used metaphorically. For example, when your direct manager has to do something for you and he/she is annoyed.
  2. - Venez me voir demain ! - Je n'y manuerai pas ! Come to see me tomorrow! - I will not miss it! Sarcasm can be applied here. And it doesn’t mean that the person will actually come.
  3. Voilà, ça y est, c'est fini ! Here, done! This expression is used in reference to some long and hard task. 

We hope this article (or rather two articles) was useful and helped you to see a ray of light in the realm of French pronouns.

Author: Kseniya Arman

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