Adverbial Pronouns / Pronominal Adverbs

Pronoms adverbiaux / Adverbes pronominaux

Y and en
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As you might guess from their name, adverbial pronouns are caught between two worlds: they are pronouns in the sense that they replace nouns, and at the same time they are adverbs representing a place, a quantity, or the object of a preposition. French has two adverbial pronouns: en and y.

Characteristics of adverbial pronouns

  1. Are required
  2. Usually replace prepositions plus their objects
  3. Can be used with one another as well as with direct and indirect object and reflexive pronouns

Word order

Adverbial pronouns precede the verb in all tenses and moods except the imperative.

Par exemple…

J’en ai deux.   I have two of them.
J’y suis allé hier.   I went (there) yesterday.
Je n’en sais rien.   I don’t know anything about that.
Il y en a beaucoup.   There are a lot of them.

Two Adverbial Pronouns

There are just two adverbial pronouns: en and y. To learn the difference, please click to read the detailed lessons:

 Adverbial Pronoun Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on the difference between en and y with this fill-in-the-blanks exercise: À la salle de jeux vidéos

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take this test. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 Related lessons

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French adverbial pronouns

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3 Responses

  1. Agata Lewandowska 4 May 2018 / 13:22

    I need some help,please 🙂 In the test for this lesson (À la salle de jeux vidéos (y versus en)), there are gaps preceded by à and d’. Can the two pronouns be used WITH these prepositions or do they replace them?
    Thank you for your help and very useful materials 🙂

    • lkl 5 May 2018 / 1:24

      Bonjour Agata,

      When the gaps are preceded by prepositions, they remain. For example, in Je viens de rentrer de Nice, the first de is part of the phrase venir de (to have just done something), so it has to stay there even when you replace de Nice with en: Je viens d’en rentrer.

      • Agata Lewandowska 6 May 2018 / 13:10

        OK, now I understand, thank you very much!

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