French Grammar Explained /

The pronoun 'y' (place complement)

What do you remember about the pronouns le, la, les and en in French?
Pronouns replace nouns, right? For example:
Arnaud trouve les pantalons beaux. ⇒ Il les trouve beaux.
J'ai besoin de tomates. ⇒ J'en ai besoin.
Pronouns are helpful. I don't have to repeat the same words again and again.
You have such a good memory! In French there is also a pronoun to replace a location. Have a look:
Clarisse va à la piscine.
Clarisse goes to the swimming pool.
Clarisse y va chaque matin à 6:30.
Clarissa goes there at 6:30 am every morning.
Ma famille habite en Algérie.
My family lives in Algeria.
Ma famille y habite depuis mon enfance.
My family has lived there since I was a child.
Tu pourrais mettre les fleurs sur la table ?
Could you put the flowers on the table?
Bien sûr ! Je peux y mettre les fleurs.
Of course! I can put the flowers there.
Je vois beaucoup de mouches dans ton appartement.
I see a lot of flies in your apartment.
J'y vois beaucoup de mouches en été.
I see a lot of flies there in summer.
That's amazing and strange at the same time. How can a single letter replace a whole expression!? Is there anything else that I should know about y?
Yes, there's one last thing that you should know. The pronoun y, as all other pronouns, is placed in front of the conjugated verb (va, habite) or in front of the infinitive (mettre). That's all you need to know for now! Remember these two rules well:
- The pronoun y replaces places that are introduced with dans, sur, en, à , chez, au
- It is placed in front of the conjugated verb or the infinitive.