Y Expressions

French expressions with y
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French-y Phrases

Sometimes tiny French words are packed with meaning, and perhaps the best example of this is the adverbial pronoun y. It usually means "there," but it can be equivalent to a preposition + "it," or have no real English translation at all.

Here are some common French expressions that include y.

allons-y   let’s go
ça y est   that’s it, it’s done
comme il fallait s’y attendre   as expected, predictably enough
Honi soit qui mal y pense.   ~ He must be up to something.
Il fallait s’y attendre.   It was to be expected.
Il faut t’y faire.   You have to get used to it.
il y a   there is, there are
je n’y peux rien   I can’t do anything about it
je n’y suis pour personne   I’m not here, I don’t want to see anyone
je n’y suis pour rien   It has nothing to do with me
j’y suis   I understand; I remember
j’y suis, j’y reste   Here I am and here I stay
j’y vais   I’m going (there)
n’y comptez pas   don’t count on it
n’y pensez plus   don’t worry about it, forget it
on y va   let’s go
on pouvait s’y attendre   it was to be expected.
personne ne s’y attendait   no one was expecting it
Qui s’y frotte s’y pique.   If you cross swords with him,
you do so at your peril.
restez-y   stay there
Souvent femme varie (bien fol est qui s’y fie).   Woman is fickle.
s’y connaître   to know all about it, be an expert
Va voir ailleurs si j’y suis ! (inf) Get lost!
y compris   including

Also see the list of proverbs at the end of the il y a lesson.

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2 Responses

  1. NJH 21 May 2017 / 15:10

    Use of “y” is really a case of remembering, isn’t it? I’ve come across plenty of those phrases and remember a lot. However, it seems there are no rules or patterns as such to assist with it’s use.

    • lkl 21 May 2017 / 16:54

      In many cases, y replaces à plus something: e.g., n’y plus pensez –> ne pensez plus à cette mauvaise décision / ce problème. But in others, you’re right: it’s just a matter of memorization.