https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClock8797

il y a

I've been learning in French class that "il y a" means "there is" or "there are"( in fact, my teacher has just about drilled that into my head). But Duolingo says that il y a means "ago" although I don't remember hearing il y a used that way. Does il y a mean both of those things, and if so how is "il y a" used in a sentence as "ago"?

April 22, 2016

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kangourex

It is the same translation but it is not the same meaning.

There is = show smthg, to describe the present, "there is a cat" = "il y a un chat"

There was = to describe in the past, "you didn't see, there was a cat !" ="tu n'as pas vu, il y avait un chat !"

ago = it is temporal in the past , "i went to the bank 3 days ago" = "j'ai été à la banque il y a 3 jours"

April 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

It's even more interesting that "il y avait une fois" means "once upon a time" :-)

April 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kangourex

No it means "Il était une fois" ^^

April 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

It's both.

April 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aistobe

« En ce temps-là », « Il y a de cela, fort longtemps » ...

April 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"il y avait une fois" is incorrect.

Edit: not incorrect, but not the exact translation of "once upon a time".

April 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I edited my previous comment because you are right, "il y avait une fois" is the correct translation for "there was once..."

A little story now, for you to forgive me:

Il était une fois une marchande de foie, qui vendait du foie dans la ville de Foix. Elle se dit: « C'est bien la première fois et la dernière fois que je vends du foie dans la ville de Foix. »

Note: Foix is a little town near Toulouse (south west), so the "foie" is "foie gras", bien sûr !

April 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

Vraiment? De La Belle et La bête "Il y avait une fois un marchand qui était extrêmement riche."?

April 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

D'accord. Nevermind. It just means "there was once..." I thought it's the same as once upon a time, but I guess not.

April 23, 2016

[deactivated user]

    Il y a 8 ans, j'ai découvert un trésor dans mon jardin -> 8 years ago, I discovered a treasure in my garden.

    "Il y a" means "ago" and "there is/are"

    April 22, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ringettelover

    It can be used both ways your way is when you are talking in the present the other way is when you are talking in the past. If you can figure out the tense you will have the meaning.

    April 23, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JJPAUL0

    it also means ago

    April 22, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chaered

    Think of it as "there are X years between now and the time when ...", which is the same as "it has been X years since...." and "X years ago ..."

    April 23, 2016
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