Using "y" with affirmative commands (L'Impératif)

Look at these sentences in L'Impératif:

Mange dans ce restaurant ! Manges-y !
Eat in that restaurant! Eat there!

Tu y vas. - Vas-y !
You're going there. - Go there!

Restons-y !
Let's stay there!

Retournez-y !
Go back there!

Allons-!
Let's go!

-> Note that in French, you always need to mention where you're going with aller (to go *somewhere*) 

Note that in L'Impératif, the pronoun y is placed after the verb with a hyphen in between.

ATTENTION: 

In the tu form, -ER verbs recover their original -s  in front of y (for pronunciation reasons):

Mange dans ce restaurant ! Manges-y !
Eat in that restaurant! Eat there!

Marches-y !
Walk there!

 

See also Using "en" with affirmative commands (L'Impératif)
and Conjugate regular verbs in L'Impératif (imperative)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Restons-y !
Let's stay there!


Mange dans ce restaurant ! Manges-y !
Eat in that restaurant! Eat there!


Marches-y !
Walk there!


Allons-!
Let's go!


Tu y vas. - Vas-y !
You're going there. - Go there!


Mangez-y !
Eat there!


Retournez-y !
Go back there!


Q&A Forum 7 questions, 23 answers

SaritaB1Kwiziq community member

tu vas au marché . will become Va au marché or Vas au marché

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

To my knowledge, 'va t'en guerre' is used as an adjective or a noun, so no need to justify the -t  here as idiomatic.

You might say a bellicose person -

C'est un vrai 'va t'en guerre' = He's a real warmonger  

or of an government official -

Il est très va t'en guerre = He's very hawkish 

To go back to Sarita's question -

Normally the -s of the second person will be dropped in the imperative and this is also the case for 'aller'.

Va au marché me chercher du poisson = Go to the market to fetch me some fish 

But when a verb is followed by 'en' or 'y' a euphonic  -s or a -t-  is added in the imperative to make pronunciation possible .

If you try to say -

prend en , parle en ,  va y , pense y  you will see what I mean.

So you have to say , for the sake of euphony ( to create a pleasing sound) :

prends-en, parles-en, vas-y, penses-y ...

However, this is not always the case -

You can say -

Va y comprendre quelque chose! = Figure that one out!

Va en parler à ta mère Go and speak about it to your mother

It is all to do with sound...

Not easy, but good question Sarita! 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The imperative singular is irregular for this verb: va au marché! (there is no "s")

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Oops, pressed "reply" prematurely.

The question whether it is "vas" or "va" in the imperative of aller is, however, not clearcut. So, for easier pronunciation, it is vas-y (with "s"). Alas, it is va en vacances (without "s"), even though it would be easier to pronounce with the added "s". Sometimes, for ease of pronunciation, the letter "t" is added as in: va-t-en guerre!

French speakers seem to differ in their use and there also seems to be a difference between written and spoken French.

So, there you go. And you thought this was a simple question. :)

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

@Chris

I wonder if there is some confusion here with "va-t'en " = "go away" from s'en aller ?  This "t" is not for ease of pronunciation.

Is "va-t-en guerre" really an imperative? It seems to be an adjective meaning "combative",  or a noun for a combative person, perhaps derived originally from a song?

SaritaB1Kwiziq community member

Still more confused..

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Alan, the difference between va-t'en and va-t-en guerre is that the t in the former is the reflexive of tu, whereas in the latter it is just the phonetic "t" making it more easily pronouncable for French tongues. A "va-t-en-guerre" would be translated as "warmonger", so guerre is the substantive not the adjective.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Chris, yes I understood the difference. My point is that I don't believe "va-t-en guerre" is an imperative, and I would be surprised if you could find any examples of the imperative with a phonetic "t", partly because of the possible confusion with "va-t'en".

The phrase "va-t-en-guerre" can also be used as an adjective.

https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/va-t-en-guerre

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I know, Alan, this can be very confusing and I am not even sure all French native speakers would agree. Have a look at this discussion here:

https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/fr-va-vas-y-imp%C3%A9ratif.614126/

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Cécile,  could you just clarify a couple of things?

1. When "Va" is used as an imperative, is it ever followed by "t" for reasons of euphonia? 

2. Do you ever say "Vas-en"?

Chris - I read that thread, I don't think there was any disagreement between the native French speakers there. 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

No, my personal "consultants" didn't agree on all points.

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Alan,

 I can confirm that you would know say - Vas-en.

You would say :

Va en chercher! Go and fetch some!

Va-t-en! Go away !

Hope this helps!

tu vas au marché . will become Va au marché or Vas au marché

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

An exceptional case

Bonjour Madame !

I have carefully read the green box which states that when y pronoun comes after ER verbs in tu form in L’Impératif , then the dropped-out s is recovered.

But for the verbs like ouvrir, couvrir , offrir , découvrir which though are “IR” verbs but are conjugated like  “ER” verbs , will this case persist for them also ?

If so please provide a few examples to illustrate the same.

Bonne journée !

Asked 8 months ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Varsha,

Your suspicions are correct, these types of IR verbs, for reasons of euphony, add the terminal s  to the second person singular imperative form when followed by the pronouns y and en.

Examples:

cueilles-en quelques unes (fleurs)

offres-y tes conseils

ouvres-en (boites) etc.

Hope this helps,

Tom

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Merci Monsieur Tom ! I am clear with the concept.

An exceptional case

Bonjour Madame !

I have carefully read the green box which states that when y pronoun comes after ER verbs in tu form in L’Impératif , then the dropped-out s is recovered.

But for the verbs like ouvrir, couvrir , offrir , découvrir which though are “IR” verbs but are conjugated like  “ER” verbs , will this case persist for them also ?

If so please provide a few examples to illustrate the same.

Bonne journée !

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

In the example "Tu y vas." -Vas-y! Is "s" being recovered in Va ,as tu form is there and l'imperatif has been used? Just want to confirm

In the example "Tu y vas." -Vas-y!

Is "s" being recovered in Va ,as tu form is there and l'imperatif has been used? 

Just want to confirm 

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Varsha, 

Yes Varsha, this is the 'tu' form of the imperative of aller

Tu y vas ...... Vas-y!

the other two forms are :

Allons-y!....... Let's go!

Allez-y! ...... Go!

Hope this helps!

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Merci Madame,

Really grateful 

In the example "Tu y vas." -Vas-y! Is "s" being recovered in Va ,as tu form is there and l'imperatif has been used? Just want to confirm

In the example "Tu y vas." -Vas-y!

Is "s" being recovered in Va ,as tu form is there and l'imperatif has been used? 

Just want to confirm 

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JoakimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Allons/Allons-y

Could you use just "Allons!" for "Let's go!" if there's no clear destination, or should both "Let's go!" and "Let's go there!" be translated as "Allons-y" ?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour David !

Yes, in the case of La Marseillaise, it's linked to the fact that here, the "cry" is not so much related to a specific destination as to the impetus to go forward.
Note however that the use of the nous form in particular is definitely antiquated :)

In a similar way, you can use "Allez !", as a supporter chant for example, which in English would be closer to "Come on!"  :)

Bonne journée !

AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Joakim ! No, in French you always need to use the verb "aller" with a location = to go *somewhere*. When in English you can simply imply "where you're going" (I'm going now), in French you have to express it, if only with "y" (J'y vais maintenant). I've now added a note in the lesson to explain this :) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
But in La Marseillaise the line goes "Allons enfants de la patrie". No "y" there. Is that bad, or obsolete, usage?
DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
But in La Marseillaise the line goes "Allons enfants de la patrie". There is no "y". So is that obsolete or incorrect usage?

Allons/Allons-y

Could you use just "Allons!" for "Let's go!" if there's no clear destination, or should both "Let's go!" and "Let's go there!" be translated as "Allons-y" ?

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SusanC1Kwiziq community member

How do you form the interrogative with "y"

Asked 2 years ago
AsiimweA0Kwiziq community member
Il y a
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Susan ! What do you mean here? Do you have a specific example?

How do you form the interrogative with "y"

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ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Difference between "On y va!" and "Allons-y!"

I answered "On y va!" and it was marked wrong. I wonder what the difference between "on y va" and "allons-y" really is... Thanks, -- Chris.
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Chris ! In terms of meaning, "on y va" and "allons-y" are used very similarly. However, "on y va" is in Le Présent Indicatif, which means it's a simple, declarative sentence: "We're going". This sentence CAN be emphasised with an exclamation mark "On y va !" -> "We're going!", expressing excitement, and in some cases be translated as "Let's go!"). As for "Allons-y !", it is in L'Impératif Présent, which expresses commands and advice, and is the literal translation of "Let's go!". Here, we were specifically expecting the use of L'Impératif. Thanks to your question, we've now added a hint to remove any anbiguity ;) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Difference between "On y va!" and "Allons-y!"

I answered "On y va!" and it was marked wrong. I wonder what the difference between "on y va" and "allons-y" really is... Thanks, -- Chris.

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SheldonB2Kwiziq community member

When do you use en instead of y?

Asked 3 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member

Hi Sheldon - thanks for asking this.

I've added links in the lessons now between the two use cases for "y" and "en" with affirmative commands so you can compare them.

You may also find it useful to know that in any of our lessons you can generally see related lessons listed on the lower right even if they're not listed within the leson. Also, the links under the "Jargon Buster" will take you to the glossary where you can see other lessons appearing under the same area of grammar.

"y" and "en" are called Adverbial Pronouns and they're used in various additional situations: https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/glossary/pronoun-type/adverbial-pronouns

Hope that helps!

When do you use en instead of y?

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