"Il y a une fille."

Translation:There is a girl.

March 18, 2013

This discussion is locked.


How does "il y" lead to "there is"?


"il y a" is a fixed expression which mostly means "there is / there are".
In these cases it is followed either by an indefinite article + noun:
Il y a un chat. - There is a cat.
Il y a des enfants. - There are (some) children.
by a number + noun:
Il y a deux pommes. - There are two apples.
or by an indefinite pronoun:
Il y a quelqu'un. - There is someone.


What I don't understand is why "il a" has a completely different meaning when "y" is introduced. In effect I'm asking why there aren't completely different words used instead of "il" and "a".


It's just something particular about the language that you have to learn. Sometimes a language uses the same words to say different things, and sometimes it uses different words to describe the same thing. It may drive us nuts, but it's also what's fun about languages. =)
"y" means there which may help remembering the "there is/are".


yes you're right but instead of ill we should use elle,shouldn't we?! because ill referes to boys not girls.


negin- If you ask me : your sister has a boy or a girl? I'll say : elle a une fille, because we're talking about my sister who possesses/has a daughter. In the expression that we have to translate, nobody possess this girl, it's just saying that a girl exists somewhere, this is neutral, il y a is always with : il


No because il is impartial in this case.


negin- Il, not Ill


In english you put together "There" and "is/are" to say to express something exist... That used to be weird to me... I speak Spanish. :D


Il a means, more or less, "he/it has..." The object pronoun "y" can often replace a location (usually if it's preceded by the locational proposition "à"). Thus, "Il y a" makes sense as "there is" if you think of it in terms of the pronoun "there" representing a location (which you should, anyway).

Think of "Il y a" translating as "there, it has (a girl)."

Where I am disappointed in this phrase is that "une" can mean both "a" AND "one." Why doesn't Duolingo recognize that?


And yes, the subject pronoun "il" is gender neutral in this and many cases. "Elle" is never used gender neutrally. Il y a doesn't refer to the girl, but to the location. Does this help anyone?


What does "il a" mean?


oh my, are you learning every language duo offers? :) I can barely keep up with one!


Doesn't "Il y a un chat" sound really awkward? The same way that "Je aimes" or "a apple" sounds awkward?


Maybe it sounds awkward to you now, but once you're used to French you will not find it awkward anymore. "Il-y-a-un" can be blended smoothly in the pronunciation, so it doesn't need any apostrophes, etc.


Excuse me, can´t " Il y un chat", for example, mean IT is a cat?


No, "Il y a" is an expression that means "there is." To say "It is a cat" you'd say "C'est un chat."


What is the difference? I translate it into my native language and they turn into the same sentence :/


there is a cat= a cat is located there or a cat exists there

"it is a cat" something is identified as a cat

  • Il = impersonal, (as in the English "it" in "it is hot", impersonal: none makes the action) Be carefuel, it has nothing to do with the other "il", the personal pronoun meaning "he".

  • y = not really a regular word, rather a location indicator. Not common, except in some expression, and to express location when you say "I will be there" = "J'y serais". (I + there + will be). You can say also: Je serais là, it's easier.

  • a = here "to have" is used instead of the English "to be", but means the same.

Il + y + a = "Il y a" = fixed expression (for singular & plural), litterally meaning it/there is here...


perce-neige- you used conditional, why? I will be there means je serai là. I would be there would be, je serais là.


Languages oftentimes lack any sense of rationality. As do people. People create languages. That's where it comes from clearly.


"Y" means "there".

I go to the beach _ Je vais À LA PLAGE. I go there _ J'Y vais.

So literally, "il y a" would mean something like "there it has" or better "there is".


I know,im so confused i answered he ago a girl :P hahahhaa


what's the difference between "C'est" and "il y a"?


c'est une fille - it/that is a girl
il y a une fille - there is a girl

  • C'est is "It is", with the "it" (c' is the contraction of "ce" or "ça") refering to an object.

  • "Il" in "il y a" is refering to nothing, it's the same impersonal than "it" in "it's hot" (not refering to an object)


So Il no longer means "he" in this expression?


No, in this expression it does not mean "he". Try to view it somewhat like "it", maybe that helps.


If there was no "y" would, "Il a une fille" mean He has a girl


Yes - Il a une fille = He has a girl.


There's two kinds of "il" in French.

  • The "regular" "il" = personal pronoun, meaning "il"

  • The impersonal "il" meaning "it". Only used when the fixed expression "Il y a" and in when you talk about the weather for instance. Il fait chaud aujourd'hui (it's hot today), il faut beau, il pleut -it's raining, etc... Used with the verb "to do" (faire)


Il y a it self is a phrase meaning there is/are


Could this sentence be translated in two ways? There is a girl There is one girl

I ask because duo lingo marked my translation, the second example, as incorrect. So how does one say, there is one girl, if indeed I am mistaken?


is il y a used exactly or almost exactly like "hay" in spanish?


drjlg- exactly, hay means il y a.


thankyou for the explanation, verygood,,,sometimes we just have to "accept" instead of dissecting, as I would imagine this is how children learn, they just "learn",,,,as an adult , of course, much more difficult as we seem to need an explanation .....I am sure there are many,many examples as confusing to a person learning English!!


This says that 'there is a daughter' is incorrect but doesn't "fille" also translate to daughter


I typed this too and had it marked as incorrect. The Google translation I got for "there is a daughter" is "il y a une fille," so I'm not sure why it would be wrong.

I've had some replies before that certain answers I'm giving would be too uncommon, but I think it's a sentence that would be used in real life. "Who did he name in his will? There is a daughter."


Sorry if this has been posted already but can "Il y a" mean "there is" as well as "ago" and if so why is this?



  • "il y a" followed by a noun/ nouns is "there is/ are" see Duo here

  • "il y a" followed by time is "ago": Il y a deux ans Two years ago


I got it correct, but I don't understand exactly the use of "y". & also in this sentence "a" loses the meaning of "has". What is the rule to understand when "a" should be used as has. What exactly is the meaning of "a" in this sentence, does it only make sense in a sentence such as this because of the "y" and "il" i.e "y" and "a" cannot mean "there is " individually without "il" to mean "there is" it has to be used all together to make sense?


Forget the "y", it's only a location indicator.

Reason for the verb "to have":
"Il y a une fille" = litterally,( it you omit the "y") "there" has a girl. It's "there" that possess a girl. You'll notice than very often, French or romance language would use "to have" when English would use "to be", and often, there's no particular reasons.


that's quite the same when we talk about age. We use avoir in French : j'ai 20 ans. I'm twenty, in English we use verb to be.


Yes! "Il y a" these three words together means "there is/are". But "Y" also stands for a place when used seperately. i.e) Il y a une fille. = There is a girl. / J'y (je+ y) vais. = I go there.


This has briefly been touched on in the previous comments but can anyone clarify something about the the use of 'il y a' as 'there is'?

In English, 'there is' can mean both that an object exists generally or that it is specifically there at that moment in time; the difference is subtle but important, IMO.

Is the French use of 'il y a' the same as our use of 'there is' with this double meaning made clear only by the context or is it more specific?


Yes, I can't find right now an example where you would use "there is/there are" in English and not "il y a" in French. Please, give us some examples, and we'll tell you if you can use "il y a", but I think it should be ok.

  • Il y a = general statement = Il y a des enfants qui ne sont pas sages = there are some children who are not wise. They are not here right now, but it means they exist.

  • Il y a= here and now = Il y a des fleurs rouges dans le jardin = there's red flowers in the garden.


How does one differentiate "Il y a" to be "there is" as opposed to "that is", ie: "that is a girl"?


"Il y a" is always there is/there are.

That is = C'est.


According to the lessons, "il" means "it" or "he"...where does "there" came from that sentence? And I had this "y" thing though i've never came across it. Is that tolerable?


Please, read the comments, I think it had been answered now.

"There is" is only the way the English say it. There's no more reason to have a "there" than a "it" here.

Forget the "y" (location indicator), only memorize the expression "Il y a" as a new word, it's an expression.


I am doing the same test over and over. Has it crashed? I'm getting lots of 'awards' too, so it can't be because I'm doing badly. Hmm.. what to do


"Il y a" is a set expression for There is like "hay" in spanish? Does it remain constant for singular and plural like "hay"?




Earlier it said il y a meant "ago" ?????


Adehkhien: "Il = he, y = ago, a = has, une = a, fille = girl, becomes = "he has a girl ago" but answer was "there's a girl". I dont understand how, please explain."

PERCE_NEIGE: "No "y" is not ago. And "il" is not "he" in this expression. Please, see the comments on this page. The time (ago) has nothing to do there.

But: You can use "il y a" for time (as you would use "hace" in Spanish to mean the same)

Location: Il y a une fille (là, there)

Time: Il y a cinq ans (five year ago)

Yes, this expression can be used to mean "there is/there are" and "ago". (but the whole expression, not the "y" alone!) and it has nothing to do with the sentence "il y a une fille", because "a girl" is not a time.

To sum up:

Il y a + noun = location.

Il y a + time = time. (because, metaphorically, it's a place, in the time)"


"Il" is masculine. Is there not a feminine version of "there is" when referring to a girl?


"Il" does not refer to the subject in the sentence. It's the "There is" part of a sentence, literally "it has there" (or to be really literal with word order too, "it there has")

Check out this explanation: http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/ilya.htm


My first translation was "There is a girl" that I changed afterwards to "He has a girl". How would "He has a girl" be in French? Something like "Il a une fille"?


Exactly yes :)

Now, I would wonder, how would you say "He has a girl there" (like you know, having locker her in a bedroom when parents unexpectedly visit ;)

As "a" stands for "there", would it be exactly... Il y a une fille? I guess then we just know from the context what the meaning is truly, but correct me if I am wrong.


Why there is (he is)


he is = il est and il a = he has but DUO has il Y a. See this discussion for instance yaacov2 or if you cannot find it see:


Il y a une grande différence, oui, il y a une différence enorme entre il a et il y a


Il generally means he right?? How it can mean there


IL = he/it Y = there A = has (from AVOIR/ to have)

But IL Y A is an expression which states the Existence of Something: There is, There are

  • Il y a des livres sur la table – there are some books on the table.
  • Il n’y a pas de vin – there is no wine

You can see a lot of similar explanations including the km long writings of Dylanx4 just before this one


Shouldn't the 'e' in "une" be silent? It's slightly voiced in the audio.


Yes it should be silent. It happens quite often, especially the man pronounces silent e-endings.


What does the 'y' mean and how does it change the sentence 'He has a girl' to 'There is a girl'?


"IL Y A" means there is/ are. If you translate it to "he has" then you have neglected the "y"

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