The pronoun Y: Il y a (there is), il y a (he has there) – confusion

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Kwiziq community member

10 August 2018

1 reply

The pronoun Y: Il y a (there is), il y a (he has there) – confusion

Hello all,

I understand the basics of using Y as a pronoun but i’m confused about when to use it in certain cases. Especially when it can look like the fixed expression il y a (there is).

Please look at these examples

1: Il y a une fille – There is a girl

2: Il a une fille à Paris – He has a girl in Paris

3: Il Y a une fille – He has a girl THERE (in Paris)

1 & 3 look the same as both have « il y a », but il y a translates as « there is » in example 1 and « he has there » in example 3

How do you know when Il y a means « there is » or « he has there »

I have been told by a friend that you can’t use “il y a” for “he has there” not for sentence number 3

My question is: Why not ? Y replaces à Paris (one of the main uses of the Y pronoun) – I thought this was a simple logical rule.

My friend said “in french the sentence 3 in english it’s : il a une fille là. missing the “Y” ”

What is the rule around this?

because you can say
il a mangé à Paris > il y a mangé
but obviously in this situation, there cannot be any confusion with il y a (there is)

So my next question is now for ELLE

As above, I have been told that for Il y a une fille (he has a girl there (in Paris)) , you should in fact write

Il a une fille là

This prevents any confusion between il y a (there is) and il y a (he has there)

But for ELLE there is not confusion because « there is » is always « IL y a)

So for

Elle a un garçon à Paris

Can you write…

Elle y a un garçon – she has a boy there (in Paris)

As there is no confusion between il y a (there is) and elle y a (she has there)

Or do you still have to use là instead ?

Elle a une garçon là

I have also been told that elle y a doesnt exist, but surely the following example does.

Elle a mangé à Paris
Elle y a mangé

None of the french people i know can give me a rule or a straight answer, so if there is anyone who can answer these questions, I would be very grateful.

Best wishes,

This question relates to:
French lesson "Y can replace à + thing / object / location (adverbial pronoun)"


Kwiziq language super star

13 August 2018


Hi Louis,

In my opinion, you would know the difference in meaning by the context .

I do agree that you would probably say:

"Il a une fille là-bas. "(rather than ) for, "He has a girl there (in Paris)." but I think you could use, "Il Y a une fille." if the context was clear, stressing the Y when speaking.

Same thing applies to your examples with Elle.

"Elle a un garçon là-bas." or " Elle Y a un garçon."

(I would probably use 'copain' or 'petit ami' instead of garçon)


Hope this helps!

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