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Y & En Listen to MP3


Y and en are both pronouns that go before the verb.  Y (ee) means it or there.  En (awn) means some or some (of them), or of it.  They replace prepositional phrases.  In French, the phrases will begin with à (or any contraction of it), en, sur, sous, chez, devant, derrière, dans, etc. for y; and de (or any contraction of it) or a number for en.  They cannot replace people unless the person is introduced with an indefinite article, partitive, number or quantity.  Sometimes y and en have no direct translation in English. Remember that they go before the verb, except in a command, in which they follow the verb and are connected with a hyphen.  The -er verbs also add the -s they lost when forming the you (familiar) command.


Sample Sentences
Do you want some apples? Voulez-vous des pommes?
Do you want some? En voulez-vous?
I have three sisters. J'ai trois sœurs.
I have three (of them). J'en ai trois.
It is in the drawer Il est dans le tiroir.
It is there. Il y est.
I am going to Detroit. Je vais à Détroit.
I am going there. J'y vais.
I am going to go to Atlanta. Je vais aller à Atlanta.
I am going to go there. Je vais y aller.
Answer the telephone! Répondez au téléphone !
Answer it! (formal) Répondez-y !
Stay there! (familiar) Restes-y !
Don't stay there! (familiar) N'y reste pas.


Y and en can also replace a phrase or clause, especially with verbs that require à or de after them:

I think a lot about these stories. Je réfléchis beaucoup à ces histoires.
I think about them a lot. J'y réfléchis beaucoup.
He obeyed the rules. Il a obéi aux règles.
He obeyed them. Il y a obéi.
We don't need this book. On n'a pas besoin de ce livre.
We don't need it. On n'en a pas besoin.
She's using the computer. Elle se sert de l'ordinateur.
She's using it. Elle s'en sert.


Notice y and en don't go after the verb in negative commands. Treat them like pronouns.  Ne or Je plus y or en all contract to N'y, J'y, N'en, and J'en.  When you have a conjugated verb plus an infinitive (vais and aller), the y or en go in between the two verbs.

 
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