Pronouns En, Y

Did you know why the pronoun is called this way? In fact, because it is used instead of an object (noun – personal or nominal). There are many of them in French:

• stresses and unstressed;

• direct and indirect;

• acting as a subject;

• possessive;

• relative;

• indefinite;

• negative and interrogative.

Today we are going to consider the reflexive pronouns en and y.


So, the personal pronoun en coincides in its form with the adverbial particle and it can be translated as "from there". En replaces a noun with the preposition de, the undefined nouns and phrases de cela.

Je suis sûr de ta victoire. J'en suis sûr. - I'm sure of your victory. I'm sure of it.

Nous parlons de nos projets. Nous en parlons. - We are talking about our plans. We are talking about them.

En est-il satisfait? - Is he satisfied with this?

J'ai des fl eurs. J'en ai cinq. - I have flowers. I have five of them.

As-tu un appartement? - Oui, j'en ai un. - Do you have an apartment? - Yes, I have one.

Combien de fi lms avez-vous vu cette semaine? - Nous en avons vus trois. - How many films have you watched this week? - We watched three.

A-t-elle des allumettes? - Non, elle n'en a pas. - Does she have any matches? - No, she does not.

Avez-vous des enfants? - Oui, j'en ai deux. - Do you have any children? - Yes, I have two.

Negation is placed before en and after the verb. For example:

Vous avez des brioches? - Non, je n'en ai pas. - Do you have a brioche (sweet bun)? - No, I do not.

Vous avez un stylo? - Non, je n'en ai pas. - Do you have a pen? - No, I do not.


And here are some examples where en acts as a particle:

Quand viens-tu de Paris? - J'en viens dans quinze jours. - When are you coming from Paris? – I am coming in two weeks.

A quelle heure sors-tu de la maison? - J'en sors à sept heures et demie. - What time do you leave the house? - I leave (from there) at 7.30.



As well as en, y has an identical adverbial particle, which is translated as "there". Y replaces inanimate nouns with the prepositions à, sur, dans, en and à cela. And with the animate, stressed personal pronouns are used (moi, toi, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, elles).


Je pense à ma vieillesse. J'y pense. - I'm thinking about my old age. I think about it.



Je pense à ma mère. Je pense à elle. - I'm thinking about my mother. I am thinking about her. (It would be nice to help too.) (We use à elle here since it's an animated noun.)


Elle ne répond pas à ma lettre. Elle n'y répond pas. - She does not answer my letter. She does not answer it.

Nous mettons nos cahiers sur le bureau. Nous y mettons nos cahiers. - We put our notebooks on the desk. We put our notebooks on it / there.

Le chef va en France. Il y va. - Chef is going to France. He is going there.

Les étudiants vont à l'Université. Ils y vont. - Students are going to university. They are going there.


When negating the structure ne ... pas surrounds both the particle and the verb.

Il n'y va pas. - He does not go there

Je n'y pense pas. - I do not think so.

Il n'y en a plus. - There is nothing there.


Also, in French there are several stable word combinations with pronouns en and y. In such combinations, it is sometimes difficult to decipher a veiled meaning, so we recommend remembering them completely at once:

J'en ai assez. - I'm over it. I'm fed up.

Voilà où en sont les choses. - This is the position / how things are.

C'en est fait! - It's over, it was decided.

En arriver à ... - get to the point that ...

Ne pas en croire ses yeux / ses oreilles -  not to believe your eyes / ears

En être à se demander - ask yourself a question

S'en faire pour qn - to worry about smb.

En finir avec qch - do away with smth.

En vouloir à ... – get angry

Il y a beaucoup d'animaux exotiques dans le parc zoologique. - There are many exotic animals in the zoo.

Y a pas! - That's that!

J'y suis! - Got it!

Ça y est! - Done! Exactly! And there is!

N'y être pour rien - to have nothing to do with smth.

S'y connaître en qch - to be good at smth.

Y perdre son latin - get lost, be bewildered

Sans que rien n'y paraisse - without giving the appearance

S'y prendre - take, take on smth.


An interesting fact is that in common parlance y often replaces the pronouns il, ils, lui (him).

For example:

Y faut les bouffer. - It is necessary to break them / get rid of them.

Y dit une menterie. - He's lying.

J'y ai dit bonjour. - I said hello to him.


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