Je n’y peux rien

Je n'y peux rien !
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French Expression

Meaning I can’t do anything about that
Literally I can’t (do) anything there
Register normal
Pronunciation [zheu nee peu ryeh(n)]
IPA   [ʒə ni pø rjɛ̃]

Usage notes: When there’s just nothing you can do, throw up your hands with the French expression je n’y peux rien. You don’t even need to include the verb faire (to do), as it’s somehow included in peux here. The adverbial pronoun y replaces the previously mentioned problem.

Par exemple…

– Ce site-web ne marche pas !
– Je n’y peux rien, le serveur est en panne.
  This website doesn’t work!
There’s nothing I can do about it, the server is down. 
– Il n’y a plus de pain.
– Je n’y peux rien, la boulangerie est fermée.
  There’s no more bread.
I can’t do anything about that, the bakery is closed.

Of course, you can also use this expression with other subjects and their pouvoir conjugations:

  • Tu n’y peux rien ? – Can’t you do anything about it?
  • Il n’y peut rien – There’s nothing he can do about it.
  • Nous n’y pouvons rien – We can’t do anything about it.
  • Vous n’y pouvez rien – There’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Les enfants n’y peuvent rien – The kids can’t do anything about it.
    etc.
Variations
  • Je ne peux rien faire à …
  • Je ne peux rien y faire
  • (Belgium) Je n’en peux rien

Related (but not synonymous) expression: je n’y suis pour rien

 Related lessons

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