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  5. "There is nothing to eat."

"There is nothing to eat."

Translation:Il n'y a rien à manger.

February 13, 2013



Could somone explain why 'de manger' is incorrect? When should you use 'à' and when do you use 'de'?


"De" is only used after certain verbs.


The "à" here is being used to have a passive infinitive.



I have the same question as this. My mind automatically went to "de manger" instead of " 'à manger"


de means of, from, or some.

de + le (of the) contracts to du.

de + les (of the) contracts to des.

de la has no contraction.


à means to or at.

à + le (to the) contracts to au

à + les (to the) contracts to aux


There is nothing TO eat needs the à.


manger means "to eat", so it includes the "to". Why would "à" be needed as an additional "to"? We say "Je veux manger", not "Je veux à manger". Likewise, "Je ne veux pas manger", not "Je ne veux pas à manger".



  • "Je ne veux pas manger" -- active infinitive
  • "Il n'y a rien à manger" -- passive infinitive


Good summary but I'd add à also means "with" as in "café au lait". It's really hard to get a handle on the prepositions and articles, for me at least.


I wouldn't be too hasty with that direct translation into english ...there are MANY instances in french where "de" and "a" do not translate directly into english and where the english version uses "to" but the french version uses "de".

I struggled with this through all of my french classes, and still don't have it down because it isn't as simple as a direct translation.


De, à, and pour can all mean "to" in certain scenarios, so it wouldn't be wise to say what you're saying.


Same! Would appreciate if someone would answer this.


My French speaking friend said that you would not use "de manger" because it sounds like you're saying There is nothing OF eating instead of There is nothing TO eat when correctly using "à manger". I guess it's just something that we'll have to commit to memory.


why not "il n'y a rien pour manger"?


The construction "pour + verb" is used for purpose ("Il l'a fait pour nous aider." He did it [in order] to help us.) or description ("Il est trop avare pour nous aider." He is too stingy to help us). (Examples from http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/preposition_pour.htm)

The word "à" is used instead in passive constructions, when the verb is modifying a noun (usually with indefinite words like "something" or "anybody"). The passive infinitive can also be translated into the English passive form, e.g. "There is nothing to be eaten".


So, kaiverus, is "rien" the noun being modified here, or is there no noun here? Thanks for your help.


"Rien"/"nothing" is a pronoun I believe so, yes, it is the thing that "manger" is modifying (since pronouns just take the place of nouns).


Thank you! Your original explanation of "a" in passive constructions was totally new to me. And with your second answer, I feel like I'm beginning to understand this.


There isn't nothing to eat? Seems like a double-negative....


It is a double negative, if you translate every word and look at it from the English perspective. This is acceptable in French (and Spanish, too) in a lot of cases.


it's not a double negative in French, as "rien" etymologically means "thing".

You can see that clearly in "ne... personne", in which "personne" is initially a positive word.

"There isn't nothing to eat" (double negative in English) would be "Il n'y a pas rien à manger"... oddly enough.


Very interesting, thanks for the correction and the insight :))


I thought that at first. But nowI think that the n and the rien work as a pair, like n and pas normally do.


I forgot the " n' ", which I know is technically wrong; but I thought that in everyday usage it's often dropped. Is that so, or am I presuming wrong here?


I think I need a native francophone here. "pas de . . ." is good French. "rien de. . ." is also good French, as in "rien de nouveau." I might be led to think that it is the following infinitive, "manger," that demands "à," but then there's "Cà ne coûte rien de demander." Is this just an idiomatic usage, or is there more going on here?

I'd appreciate some clarification.


can i say "il n'y a pas" ?


there is not nothing to eat = there is something to eat!


What about "il n'y a pas à manger"? Can you say "there is food" by "il y a à manger"?


You can say "il y a quelque chose à manger" (there is something to eat). "il n'y a pas à manger" translates to "there is not to eat", which makes no sense. And "there is food" is simply "il y a des nourriture" or something like that.


I've read about an expression "il y a à boire et à manger". Can you use this form also outside this expression? And can you use this sentence also if you want to say that there will be drinks and food (eg at a party)?


Il n'y a pas à manger = there isn't to eat. Il y a à manger = there is to eat. It's missing something. The "pas" is simple negative, you need a negative article referring to something, rien = nothing


What's the difference between "a manger" and "pour manger"? Thanks


"Pour" states purpose before infinitives, while "à" makes this a so called passive infinitive. Look carefully on this discussion for the relevant link, I'm on mobile and can't provide it.


Same question as efleeclc!


"Il n'y a pas quelque chose à manger" = there ISN'T SOMETHING to eat "Il n'y a rien à manger" = there is NOTHING to eat

Not sure if in english the first is gramatically incorrect, but it certainly doesn't sound right. It makes much more sense saying directly nothing


You would use "anything" instead of "something" to make it sound, and be, correct. Both are just fine in English:
"There is nothing to eat"
" There isn't anything to eat"
Note that French uses a double negative, negating the verb (n'y a) and the object as well (rien). The literal translation would be " There isn't nothing to eat" , but in French (Spanish, too) double negatives aren't a problem.


Why not il n'y a plus à manger?


il n'y a plus à manger means "there is no more to eat" not "there is nothing to eat"


Why not c'est rien a manger?


That would translate to
"It is nothing to eat" which hardly makes sense. Use être to describe how something is, to describe its properties.
Use "Il y a" (there is) when stating that there is something, when talking about its presence, its existence.


Why not il n'y a PAS rien a manger?

  • ne ... pas = [do] not

e.g. "I want this" = "Je veux ça" / "I don't want this" = "Je ne veux pas ça

e.g. "There is enough salt" = "Il y a assez de sel" / "There is not enough salt" = "Il n'y a pas assez de sel"

That's the basic negative.

  • "ne ... pas" + "quelque chose" makes "ne ... rien" = "not" + "something" makes "nothing"

e.g. "I want something" = "Je veux quelque chose" / "I want nothing (or I don't want anything)" = "Je ne veux rien

e.g. "There is something to eat" = "Il y a quelque chose à manger" / "There is nothing to eat" = "Il n'y a rien à manger"


Why is the "y" included? With the "y" doesn't the sentence become "There is nothing to eat there"?


It is a negation of the "il y a" construction. "il y a" = "there is" so you can negate it to say "there is nothing" by negating it with rien: "il n'y a rien".


Does anyone know why "Il n'y a pas quelque chose à manger" is incorrect? I know that it is not as compact as the solution they wrote, but I think it means the same thing?


As far as I understand, "quelque chose" (anything, something) is not used for negation - like it is in English. So in French, what would be a double negative is used instead:
"There isn't anything to eat" turns into
" There isn't (n'y a) nothing (rien) to eat".


Why 'rien à manger' is not correct?


Why not "Il n'y a PAS rien....?


I put y a rien de mager? I guess i have to out the full Il n'y a pas de manger

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