There is something I need to tell you. There are two ways to say there is in English.
But in French...
il y a
il y a
That's right! There's only one way to say it, which makes things nice and easy. A direct transliteration of il y a would be something like it there has, but never mind that.
Il y a une femme.
Thereis a woman.
Il y a des femmes.
Wow, that's great! I like it simple.
Easy, right? It turns out that there's one slightly tricky bit with there isn't, there aren't (the negation).
I knew there was a catch...
The first thing to note is that we have to negate the verb a with ne ... pas as usual.
there isn't / aren't → iln'yapas
That looks really complicated.
Don't worry. I suggest you just say this over and over: "Ilnyapah".
Ilnyapah... That's not so bad! I'll get started: il n'y a pas, il n'y a pas...
The second thing is that no matter what comes next (une, un, des, 3, etc.) you will have to replace it by de.
Il n'y a pasdefemme.
There isn't any women/There are no women.
Let's play a game to practice. You have to negate everything I say:
Il y a un canapé dans le bureau.
Il n'y apasdecanapé dans le bureau.
Il y aune guitare dans la chambre.
Il n'y apas deguitare dans la chambre.
Il y ades plantes dans la maison.
Il n'y apas deplantes dans la maison.
Bravo! I think you've got the hang of it already!
In less formal speech
In English we can say there's. In informal French,il y a might be pronounced more like y'aand il n'y apas more like y'a pas.
Y'a un bus. → There's a bus.
Y'a pasde bus. → There'sno bus.
These shortcuts are common when people are talking less formally in all languages, in the same way that want to sounds like wanna in English. Keeping your eyes (and ears!) open for these shortcuts is the key to understanding spoken French.