16.3 Pronouns y and en

The pronouns y and en belong to the group of pronominal adverbs (which sound quite complicated, but you will see it is not as bad as it sounds). They are used in substitution for something else, therefore they are pronouns, but they are not changed according to gender and number, which makes them adverbs. This term pronominal adverbs just says, that they have something of both. In English they do not play such a big role as they do in French, therefore this topic will need some concentration.

  Examples
Object
masculine / singular:
  Do you think about cake? Yes, I think about it.
Oui, j' y pense.
Tu penses au gâteau?  
  Object
masculine / plural:
  Do you think about cakes? Yes, I think about them.
Tu penses aux gâteaux?  
  referring to a context   Do you think about repairing the car? Yes, I think about it.
Tu penses à faire réparer la voiture?  
  Object
feminine / singular:
  Do you think about the plant? Yes, I think about it.
Tu penses à la plante?  
  Object
feminine / plural:
Do you think about the plants? Yes, I think about them.
Tu penses aux plantes?  

As you can see English would always use the personal pronoun in the above sentences, there are no easy equvivalent for y and en. Therefore, we try to give a pattern, when to use which one that should make things easier. Does the verb use the French preposition à, en, sur or dans, then y is to be used. En is used with verbs that use the French preposition de.

  y = there; y = preposition (à, en, sur, dans, chez / about, to) + personal pronoun it / them
  Est-ce que tes parents habitent à Berlin? Oui, ils y habitent.
    Do your parents live in Berlin? Yes, they live there.
  Est-ce que tu vas à Paris? Non, je n' y vais pas souvent.
    Do you often go to Paris? No, I do not often go there.
  Est-ce que tu penses souvent à prendre la retraite ? Non, je n' y pense pas souvent.
    Do you often think about it to retire? No, I do not often think about it.
  Tu t' habitues à ce style de vie? Oui, je m' y habitue.
    Do you get used to this life style? Yes, I get used to it.
  Fais attention à ce qu' il dit! Oui, j' y fais attention.
    Pay attention to what he says! Yes, I pay attentioni to it.






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