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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is: How do you use y and what are some common expressions?
Y is a pronoun that you can use to replace a noun. It makes your sentence shorter and easier to say or read. Y usually replaces a location. However, there are a few different ways to use it.
For places, y means "there." Let’s break it down with this sentence --
J'ai mis mes clés sur la table mais elles n'y sont plus.
That means, "I put my keys on the table but they're not there anymore."
That's easier than saying, "I put my keys on the table but they're not on the table anymore."
In this case, the y in ells n'y sont plus refers to sur la table.
You can also use y for geographical locations. Say someone asks, Est-ce que tu vas à Paris cet été? meaning "Are you going to Paris this summer?"
You can respond with either Oui, j'y vais en août. "Yes, I'm going there in August," or Non, je n'y vais pas. Je vais à Londres. "No, I'm not going there. I'm going to London." In the English translations, y becomes the word “there,” replacing “Paris.”
We also use y with certain verbs that use the preposition “it.”
For example, let’s take penser à, which means "to think about." For the verb "to think" in English, you'd normally use the pronoun "it." This is to refer to something you mentioned previously, like "I'll think about it." In French, we use y. So "I'll think about it" is Je vais y penser or Je vais y réfléchir.
Pretty useful, right?
In another lesson, we'll talk more about verbs that use à versus verbs that use de.
That’s it for now! If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
A bientôt, see you soon!


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FrenchPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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What French learning question do you have?

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:29 PM
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Bonjour Thomas,

Thank you for the kind words, I'm glad this lesson helped! 😄

Bonjour John,

I have to admit it's my first time hearing this expression! Be careful though, upon research I confirmed it's written "Honni soit qui mal y pense". To answer your question, "y" here is a pronoun that replaces the thing you're having bad thoughts about. FYI, "y" can either replace a thing, like in this expression or in this example: "Je pense à mes problèmes" = "j'y pense", and "y" can also replace a place "je vais au cinéma" = "j'y vais".

Hope this helps!

Bonne journée,


Team FrenchPod101

john gard
Friday at 12:10 PM
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Salut Candice.

There is a french expression "Moni soit qui mal y pense." I saw it in reference to the work of Joan Miro.

Assuming it means something like "they criticizes what they do not like (or understand)". Can you explain how y is used in this statement?


john g.

Friday at 07:50 AM
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This was super userful and something that has always confused me! Thanks!