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En - French Pronoun

French adverbial pronoun ~ Pronom adverbial


The French adverbial pronoun en may be small, but it is extremely important in French.

En replaces the partitive article + noun or de + indefinite article + noun. It is equivalent to "some," "any," or "one" in English.

   Do you have any bread? Yes, I have some.
   As-tu du pain ? Oui, j'en ai.

   He wants an apple. He wants one.
   Il a envie d'une pomme. Il en a envie.

   I don't need an assistant. I don't need one.
   Je n'ai pas besoin d'un aide. Je n'en ai pas besoin.

In a sentence with a modifier, such as an adverb of quantity or a number, plus noun, en replaces the noun and the modifier or number is placed at the end of the sentence. Note that "of it" and "of them" are usually optional in English, but en is required in French.

   There are a lot of rooms. There are a lot (of them).
   Il y a beaucoup de chambres. Il y en a beaucoup.

   I don't have enough money. I don't have enough (of it).
   Je n'ai pas assez d'argent. Je n'en ai pas assez.

   I'd like two books. I'd like two (of them).
   Je voudrais deux livres. J'en voudrais deux.

   We bought 10 notebooks. We bought 10 (of them).
   Nous avons acheté 10 cahiers. Nous en avons acheté 10.

En also replaces de + noun with verbs and expressions that need de. Again, in French, you must include either de + something or its replacement en, even though "about/of it" is usually optional in English.

   What do you think about my idea? What do you think (about it)?
   Que penses-tu de mon idée ? Qu'en penses-tu ?
   Wrong: Que penses-tu ?

   What are the consequences of this decision? What are the consequences (of it)?
   Quelles sont les conséquences de cette décision ? Quelles en sont les conséquences ?
   Wrong: Quelles sont les conséquences ?

Note that en usually cannot replace de + verb.

   I decided to accept his offer. I decided to accept it.
   J'ai décidé d'accepter son offre. J'ai décidé de l'accepter.
   Wrong: J'en ai décidé.

   I forgot to wash the car. I forgot to wash it.
   J'ai oublié de laver la voiture. J'ai oublié de la laver.
   Wrong: J'en ai oublié.

Note that en is also a preposition.

Test on y and en

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