The French pronouns Y and En: Rules and Examples

Mastering the Use of Y and En: A Beginner’s Guide to French Pronouns

In French, the pronouns “y” and “en” are used to express “there” and “there of” respectively. These two words can be a bit confusing for beginners, but with the right understanding and practice, you’ll soon be using them like a native speaker.


The pronoun “y” is used to refer to a place or location without specifying it. It is used to replace a noun or phrase that is mentioned earlier in the conversation. For example:

Je vais à la bibliothèque (I’m going to the library) Y a-t-il un livre que je peux emprunter? (Is there a book I can borrow?)

In the above example, “y” replaces the noun “library” and refers to the place or location where the action is taking place.


The pronoun “en” is used to express “there of” in French. It is used to refer to something that is not specified, but that is part of the larger whole. For example:

J’ai acheté du pain (I bought bread) En ai-je acheté assez? (Did I buy enough?)

In the above example, “en” refers to the quantity of bread that was bought, but it is not specified how much.

Rules for Using Y and En

  1. Both “y” and “en” can only be used with verbs that express a state of being or an action that takes place somewhere or with something. For example, “aller” (to go), “être” (to be), and “avoir” (to have).
  2. “Y” and “en” cannot be used with verbs that express a mental state or a feeling, such as “penser” (to think) or “aimer” (to love).
  3. “Y” is usually placed before the verb, while “en” is usually placed after the verb. For example:

Je vais y aller (I’m going there) J’en ai assez (I’ve had enough of it)

Examples of Y and En in Use

  1. Y

Est-ce que tu vas y aller ce soir? (Are you going there tonight?) Je vais y aller demain (I’m going there tomorrow)

  1. En

As-tu suffisamment d’argent pour en acheter? (Do you have enough money to buy some?) J’en ai assez de cette situation (I’ve had enough of this situation)

In conclusion, the pronouns “y” and “en” are essential tools in French grammar, allowing you to express “there” and “there of” respectively. With practice and a good understanding of the rules, you’ll be able to use these words with confidence in your conversations.


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