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Il y a , va-t-il

Can someone please explain the above two to me? I've already memorised the meanings, but the way they are constructed and sometimes used in sentences is bothering me and I'm wondering if I understand their construction better I will understand them better.

October 11, 2017



Once you hit on your lesson that you are about to start scroll down and it should be some tips and notes . Have you seen those? Maybe that will help.


I have, thanks, but I wanted a more comprehensive answer than they gave.


Most often, or at least at first in a beginning level, you'll see "il y a" in the way that it means "there is." For instance, "il y a douze garçons", or "there are twelve boys." However, "va-t-il" will be used in questions. You know how you can use inversion for questions? So that the verb is before the noun, such as the case with "vas-tu au cinema", or "are you going to the theater"? Well, "va-t-il" is pretty much the same thing. The question "Il va au cinema?" (is he going to the movie theater?) would just be flipped like any other inversion question, making it "Va-il au cinema?" However, the vowels of "va" and "il" don't go together, so the t is added to separate the two. Therefore, "Va-il au cinema?" is incorrect. It is, instead, "Va-t-il au cinema?"


Also... You can't always directly French to English or English to French. The phrase "il y a" is once such case. However, there is a sort of "trick" that might help you in remembering what it is and how it's used? In English, we say "there is" or "there are". When we say this, we sort of mean that something has an object or objects. (There is a chair. = The room has a chair.) In French "il a" means to have. The y, as you may or may not have learned already, usually means "there". For instance, "j'y vais" means "I go there." So, by adding the "y" to "il a", it's kind of like combining "it has" and "there"... making "There is"...

I don't know... That's confusing, but it's just something I could think of that might help?? Note that there is at least one other usage of the phrase "il y a" that I know of... This is to help with only one of the meanings


Thank you! The cinema example is particularly helpful :) Have a Lingot!


Il y a (There is/are): Since "il" means "it" and "a" means "has", "il a" means "It has". Additionally, "y" means "there". Since "y" always comes before the verb in French, the way to state the phrase would be "Il y a" (literally "it there has").

Va-t-il (Is he going?): "Il va" means "He is going". Using inversion to switch around the verb and the pronoun, the statement becomes a part of a question (i.e. "Il boit" (He is drinking) becomes "Boit-il" (Is he drinking?)). However, since "va" ends in a vowel sound, and "il" begins with a vowel sound, "va-il" is considered incorrect. To make it correct, a "t" needs to be added between "va" and "il", resulting in "va-t-il".

Hope this helps!


Thank you for your answers! (And to all that answered!) Duo wasn't giving me email notifications of your answers, so I didn't realise I was even getting any! :S

Man that's perfect, I think I was at the cusp of understanding this myself, but having you (and others) explain it has made it make sense.

I hadn't actually thought about the fact that Va-t-il was in the interrogative form, and that is why it was used that way. So the t isn't just a contracted form of te? Or if te was used would it be va-t'il? Also, is t used as the universal filler in French?

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