Y vs. en in French

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Y vs. en

Y and en are used to refer to something that has just been referred to. This could be an action, a thing, a place, etc. We use y or en in order to avoid repeating it.
Tu veux bien aller au supermarché ? Oui, j’y vais. Would you mind going to the supermarket ? Ok, I’ll go there.
Tu vas à la manif aujourd’hui ? J’en reviens à l’instant. Are you going to the protest today? I just got back from it.
Y is normally translated by ‘there’ in English. It mostly replaces prepositional phrases that begin with à, such as à cet endroit (to this place).
Victor aime la boulangerie. Il y va souvent. (= Il va souvent à cet endroit.) Victor likes the pastry shop. He goes there often (=he often goes to this place).
C’est un très mauvais restaurant. N’y allez pas ! (= N’allez pas à cet endroit.) It’s a very bad restaurant. Do not go there!
Tu es allé faire les courses ? Oui. J’y suis allé.(= Je suis allé au supermarché.) Have you done the shopping? Yes, I just went there (to the shop).
En can very generally be translated as ‘some’, ‘any’ or ‘one’ in English. It mostly replaces prepositional phrases that begin with de.
Tu es allé au cinéma récemment ? Oui, j’en reviens ! (= je reviens du cinéma). Have you been to the movies recently? Yes, I was just there.
Cécile a des projets. Elle m’en parle souvent. (= elle me parle souvent de ses projets) Cécile has some projects. She talks about them often.
Dédé a pris des vacances. Il en avait besoin ! (= il avait besoin de prendre des vacances) Dédé just took some holidays. He needed some!


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