Y can replace à + thing / object / location (adverbial pronoun)

You've already learned that the pronoun y is used to mean there (See Y = There (adverbial pronoun)).
Here is another usage of y. 

Look at these sentences:

Nous pensons à faire nos devoirs. Nous y pensons.
We're thinking about doing our homework. We're thinking about it.

Il pense à ses vacances. Il y pense.
He's thinking of his holidays.  He's thinking of it.

(Note that y can replace plural things too)

Elle répond à une lettre. Elle y répond.
She's answering a letter. She's answering it.

Nous nous intéressons au sport. Nous nous y intéressons. 
We're interested in sport. We're interested in it.


Note that the pronoun y can also replace a group introduced by the preposition à + [thing(s)]/[object(s)]/[location(s)] (but not a person), particularly with verbs that require à.  
In such cases, you cannot replace the noun alone with a pronoun, you must replace the whole à + [noun] group with y.

ATTENTION:
In the case of people, the group à + [people] will be replaced by an indirect pronoun. See Replacing people with lui, leur = him, her, them (indirect object pronouns) and Me, te, nous, vous = Me, you, us, you (direct and indirect object pronouns).
 

Also see  En can replace de + phrase (adverbial pronoun) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources


penser à


Il pense à ses vacances. Il y pense.
He's thinking of his holidays.  He's thinking of it.


Nous pensons à faire nos devoirs. Nous y pensons.
We're thinking about doing our homework. We're thinking about it.


répondre à


Elle répond à une lettre. Elle y répond.
She's answering a letter. She's answering it.


s'intéresser à


Nous nous intéressons au sport. Nous nous y intéressons. 
We're interested in sport. We're interested in it.


Q&A

Louis

Kwiziq community member

10 August 2018

1 reply

The pronoun Y: Il y a (there is), il y a (he has there) – confusion

Hello all,

I understand the basics of using Y as a pronoun but i’m confused about when to use it in certain cases. Especially when it can look like the fixed expression il y a (there is).

Please look at these examples

1: Il y a une fille – There is a girl

2: Il a une fille à Paris – He has a girl in Paris

3: Il Y a une fille – He has a girl THERE (in Paris)

1 & 3 look the same as both have « il y a », but il y a translates as « there is » in example 1 and « he has there » in example 3

How do you know when Il y a means « there is » or « he has there »

I have been told by a friend that you can’t use “il y a” for “he has there” not for sentence number 3

My question is: Why not ? Y replaces à Paris (one of the main uses of the Y pronoun) – I thought this was a simple logical rule.

My friend said “in french the sentence 3 in english it’s : il a une fille là. missing the “Y” ”

What is the rule around this?

because you can say
il a mangé à Paris > il y a mangé
but obviously in this situation, there cannot be any confusion with il y a (there is)

So my next question is now for ELLE

As above, I have been told that for Il y a une fille (he has a girl there (in Paris)) , you should in fact write

Il a une fille là

This prevents any confusion between il y a (there is) and il y a (he has there)

But for ELLE there is not confusion because « there is » is always « IL y a)

So for

Elle a un garçon à Paris

Can you write…

Elle y a un garçon – she has a boy there (in Paris)

As there is no confusion between il y a (there is) and elle y a (she has there)

Or do you still have to use là instead ?

Elle a une garçon là

I have also been told that elle y a doesnt exist, but surely the following example does.

Elle a mangé à Paris
Elle y a mangé

None of the french people i know can give me a rule or a straight answer, so if there is anyone who can answer these questions, I would be very grateful.

Best wishes,
Louis

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

13 August 2018

13/08/18

Hi Louis,

In my opinion, you would know the difference in meaning by the context .

I do agree that you would probably say:

"Il a une fille là-bas. "(rather than ) for, "He has a girl there (in Paris)." but I think you could use, "Il Y a une fille." if the context was clear, stressing the Y when speaking.

Same thing applies to your examples with Elle.

"Elle a un garçon là-bas." or " Elle Y a un garçon."

(I would probably use 'copain' or 'petit ami' instead of garçon)

 

Hope this helps!

Michael

Kwiziq community member

5 May 2018

2 replies

The pronoun Y

I am not clear on these two examples even after rereading the lesson. I can't see the exact phrase or object that is being replaced (assuming its introduced by à or a prepositional verb). Is there another situation where "en" can be used.

- Tu te rappelles quand Luc a perdu à Donkey Kong à deux secondes de la fin ? J'ai les boules à chaque fois que j'y pense ! 
- Quand j'ai vu le “Game Over”, je n'arrivais pas à y croire ! Il me reste quatre tickets, et toi ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

5 May 2018

5/05/18

Bonjour Michael !

Here you have to look at the verbs used in the clauses with "y":

- "à chaque fois que j'y pense !"
-> here the verb is penser à [quelque chose]  

- "je n'arrivais pas à y croire !" 
->  here the structure is croire à/en [quelque chose]

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

 

 

Michael

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2018

6/05/18

Of course! Thank you Aurélie,

I had only been looking in the first sentence for 'y' candidates, but the answer is obvious now that you have pointed it out.

Am I correct to also assume that , under most circumstances, if the verb was verb + de [quelque chose] then the adverbial pronoun would be en.

Also, under the right conditions( I have read your lessons an à and de),  if it was a non prepositional verb the pronoun would be le.

Leah

Kwiziq community member

29 April 2018

1 reply

Elle y repond ... why not elle le repond? (I can't get the accent to work so ignore that). I'm not sure when to replace with le or y

Leah

Kwiziq community member

29 April 2018

29/04/18

Wait I got it dont worry :)

John

Kwiziq community member

7 September 2017

3 replies

This, that and so

In discussing the use of "le" or " l' " in a response as a substitute for an idea in a previous statement the explanation is that in English we often use "that" or "it" in the same way. But in the translation you use the word "so," which is what we usually say. It's a small thing but I'd suggest adding "so" to those other words in the explanation.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

9 September 2017

9/09/17

Bonjour John, I understand your question; however, I am unable to locate the lesson relating to "le" or " l' " in a response as a substitute for an idea in a previous statement. I do recall this lesson; however, it would be quite beneficial to all users, if you would consider re-posting your question along with the related lesson for that precise usage. Bonne chance,

Ron

Kwiziq community member

9 September 2017

9/09/17

Bonjour encore John, Please know that I was able to locate the lesson you spoke of: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/view/706 I do see your point and agree with you that in English we do use «so» quite frequently. Perhaps, the team will consider the inclusion of «so» in the list with «that» and «it» A very good observation. Bonne chance en votre continuation,

John

Kwiziq community member

9 September 2017

9/09/17

Merci bien, Ron

Andrew

Kwiziq community member

23 August 2017

1 reply

Placement of y in a sentence using futur proche

I thought there was a rule that "y" should come before the verb (including auxiliary verb). There seems to be an exception when using the futur proche? For example: Je vais y reflechir rather than J'y vais reflechir.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

24/08/17

Bonjour Andrew, With the lesson here, «y» is replacing a group of words, i.e. a clause, etc. that begins with «à». Here is the part of the lesson that explains this: Note that the pronoun y can also replace a group introduced by the preposition à + [thing(s)]/[object(s)]/[location(s)] (but not a person), particularly with verbs that require à. In such cases, you cannot replace the noun alone with a pronoun, you must replace the whole à + [noun] group with y. You are correct that y precedes the verb and it does in your sentence, it precedes the verb reflechir meaning the locuteur is going to reflect on something and that something is a phrase or group of words that begins with à. J'espère que cela vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation.

Andy

Kwiziq community member

15 January 2017

2 replies

You just have to watch all the movies

Hi. In the week 19 B1 writing test the above is translated as: Il n’y a qu’à regarder tous les films. I can understand 'you only have to watch' bit but please what purpose does the 'y' pronoun play here please? [And as an unrelated aside could this sentence not be simply said as: Vous devez juste regarder tous les films. ]

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

16 January 2017

16/01/17

Bonjour Andy ! In this case, it's actually a variant of the expression "il y a" (there is/are) which is used: "il n'y a qu'à + infinitif" meaning "It's enough to + verb" (Literally "there is only/just to + infinitif). In this context, the best alternative with "vous" would actually be: "Vous n'avez qu'à regarder tous les films." (I've now added it to the test answers) I hope that's helpful!

Andy

Kwiziq community member

16 January 2017

16/01/17

Thanks Aurélie!

M

Kwiziq community member

7 January 2016

1 reply

On the test the question was "Il pense à sa famille. Elle y pense aussi.

If y = à plus thing/object/location (but not a person) and famille is a group of people why is y used?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

7 January 2016

7/01/16

Bonjour M, Good question. While "family" refers a group of people, in French the fact that it's a group is more important than what that group is comprised of. Y replaces the "group" not "people," if that makes sense. You can't use y when referring to specific people by name, relationship, occupation, etc. I hope that makes sense.

C

Kwiziq community member

18 November 2015

2 replies

Penser + à + infinitive

In an article on About.com, Laura Lawless explained that no preposition is needed when an infinitive follows "penser" eg "Je pense aller au marché" (http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/penser.htm). So why is it that in the given example "We are thinking about doing our homework" the preposition "à" is used before "faire". The example given is "nous pensons à faire nos devoirs". Isn't that a contradiction? I have found other links that seem to agree with the About.com article: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/why-french-verbs-followed-no-not-any-nothing-preposition-infinitive, http://bit.ly/1MAR8H1, http://bit.ly/1SXvroK; but i also encounter a French natives and learners who say you can use the preposition "à" before an infinitive. It seems that without the preposition the sense is someone is close to doing something/intends on doing something (it is already planned) and that with the preposition "à" then idea is someone is just thinking ABOUT doing something. At first I could find nothing to support this theory but today I seem to find such explanations everywhere! http://bit.ly/1WYqT7j. So which is it? If there is more to the topic, can Laura add to it on her page "All About Penser"?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

18 November 2015

18/11/15

Bonjour C,

Penser can be followed by à or not, with a very slight difference in meaning.

Penser faire = to consider doing, hope to do

Penser à faire = to have in mind to do

I left About nearly a year and a half ago, but I will keep your question in mind for when I write a new lesson on this topic. (To find my new site, just search for my name and French).

C

Kwiziq community member

19 November 2015

19/11/15

Hi Laura, I am on Lawless French. That is where I posted this question. Is that the site you mean?
Clever stuff underway!