Y – Adverbial Pronoun

Pronom adverbial

The adverbial pronoun y can replace a place or the object of the preposition à. Y is most commonly equivalent to "there," but may also be translated by a preposition plus "it."

Par exemple…

Je veux retourner en France. J’y étais l’année dernière.   I want to go back to France. I was there last year.
Le travail sera terminé, tu peux y compter.   The work will be done, you can count on it.

Using y

1) Y replaces preposition + place

Y most often replaces a preposition of place, such as à, chez, dans, en, or sur, as well as the place itself.

Par exemple…

Nous allons à la plage. Alix nous y attend.   We’re going to the beach. Alix is waiting for us there.
Il est chez le médecin, il y va le mardi.   He’s at the doctor’s; he goes there on Tuesdays.

2) Y for obvious or implied places

Y can refer to a place that is obvious or implied, even if not preceded by a preposition:

Par exemple…

Restez-y.   Stay there.
J’aime la France, j’y vais chaque année.   I love France, I go there every year.

  In English, you can say "I’m going!" and no one will bat an eye. But in French, Je vais ! is not enough; the person you’re talking to will be waiting for you to finish your sentence. If you’re not going to specify the place, e.g., je vais en France, you have to say j’y vais.

Likewise with verbs: you can’t say Je vais. to mean "I’m going to." You have to follow it with an infinitive, such as je vais le faire.

3) Y with verbs

Y is also used with verbs that require the preposition à plus an indirect object.

Par exemple…

Je pense à ta décision. J’y pense tous le temps.   I’m thinking about your decision. I think about it all the time.
Répondez au téléphone, répondez-y !   Answer the phone, answer it!

4) Expressions with y

 Related lessons

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French adverbial pronouns


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3 Responses

  1. Shirley Carrillo 23 July 2017 / 16:24

    This is the clearest and best explanation of the adverial pronoun “y” which I struggle with when speaking. And I love how the all the lessons are chort and to the point. They aren’t condensed with too much information. As a French major in college, I rely on these helpful lessons to give me a better understanding of subject material that I’m learning in class. I love this website! Merci beaucoup!

  2. Mary Lanier 25 September 2014 / 6:01

    This is the first satisfactory explanation I’ve seen of “y”. Merci!

  3. Paul Hodges 23 September 2014 / 15:22

    You’re by far the best describer of French for gringoes on the planet. We await the follow-on of Intermediate..Dummies eagerly, millions of us.

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