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Pronoun «en»


This is a new thread following this discussion, I made a post but I don't think anyone has seen it: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24201594

It's about the infamous pronoun « en », which causes learners many difficulties. In case anyone else is stuck, I will share what I already know:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJt1vxCmRus (entirely French, but with sub-titles)

Preposition: En can be a preposition. An example sentence: « Je vis en France ». ''I live in France''.

Quantity: En is always used to replace quantity. « Je veux cinq ordinateurs ---> j'en veux cinq ». Combien and beaucoup also count as quantites. « Je veux cinq » alone is incorrect, « en » is obligatory here. « Tu en veux combien ? J'en veux beaucoup ».

Replacement of « de »: En is used to replace « de ». « Elle parle souvent de son jardin ---> elle en parle souvent. » For replacing « à », instead we use the pronoun « y ».

You will cover another use in the lesson ''Verbs: Gerund''. « Tu peux reussir en faisant un effort ». ''You can succeed by making an effort.''

If there is a fifth use which I have forgotten, let me know. I would also suggest to all those who have doubts, to watch the linked video. This pronoun used to drive me crazy, I could never understand it's seemingly random pre-verb usage... I've got better now and can even use successfully in spoken conversation sometimes, although even today, I still find myself occasionally having the same problem of being unable to understand why it's preceding a verb.

I posted a sentence I came across yesterday in the linked thread, and despite the videos and what I know, I am desperately in need of some help. If you find a sentence where you want to ask about why it's been used, post here... but read the tips and video first! I will start:

« La rumeur circule déjà qu'il est tellement dégoûté qu'il est parti se cacher. Mais quelque chose m'a dit qu'on n'EN a pas terminé avec lui ».

Process of elimination: it's not a quantity, not a preposition, not a gerund... so it can only replace « de » somewhere? I am still lost, but I made a few guesses: « On n'a pas terminé de faire quelque chose » ? « On n'a pas terminé de le supporter »? By using logic, in contexts like this we must say « terminer de », and not « terminer à »?

August 30, 2017



Thanks for sharing! This clears up a lot.


Great, am happy I could help too.


UPDATE: I didn't really get answers here, so I had to move to another forum. It seems that the usage in this particular sentence covers a 5th usage of « en » which I didn't know much about - it's called in French « une valeur imprécise », and this applies here. It means that the « en » doesn't particularly replace anything... although here it kind of replaces unspecified actions while ''we are not finished with him''. One example I learned:

Je veux Nick - I want Nick

J'en veux à Nick - I am angry/annoyed with Nick (in a grudge sense)

As you see, it can completely change the meaning, so if ever in doubt don't forget its 5th usage! I will learn more of these expressions.



That is a very good link. Yes indeed, when used as a quantity, ''of them'' is a good translation in English which I forgot about... although in English it can be omitted, in French it's obligatory.


I think that the "de" in this case does not refer to a place. For example, if I say: « On n'a pas terminé de lui frapper» I could say later,« Mais quelque chose m'a dit qu'on n'en a pas terminé avec lui ». Sorry my English.


It's ok... yes, this seems like the most likely possibility.

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