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What is the distinction between "y" and "en?" (French)

For a simple example, say I want to say "I'm thinking about it." Would I say:

J'y pense or J'en pense?

September 19, 2017



"Y" belongs to "à"

"En" belongs to "de".

Depending on the verb's construction (with "à" or "de"), you will use "y" or "en" as pronouns, to replace the object - primarily a thing (usually not a human being):

  • je parle de littérature -- j'en parle (en = de littérature)
  • je pense à la littérature -- j'y pense (y = à la littérature)


Yes, and of course we can also say 'penser de', hence: 'j'en pense'.

  • Tu en penses quoi ?
  • De quoi ?
  • De la littérature.
  • Ce que j'en pense, je le garde pour moi.


penser à -->; "to think about" | penser de -->; "to think of", "to have have an opinion of" (as in the sentence "what do you think of... [the current policies on climate change, for example] ?")

"I am thinking about it" = J'y pense.

J'en pense ... is a partial sentence "I think ..." and is generally followed by que --> J'en pense que tu es magnifique !

If you wanted to say something like "I think of/about you" it would use neither pronoun --> Je pense à toi.


'y' means 'there'. 'en' means 'some'. 'y' and 'en' are pronouns, so they replace nouns, just like 'he,she, it' do. But here's the cool thing they can replace expressions. 'je vais à l'école' can become 'j'y vais'. 'j'ai besoin de quatre gâteaux' can become j'en ai besoin. I'm just a student too, but I'm pretty sure this is right. regards... james.

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