Il y a

French Grammar (see all)

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Il y a

Il y a + quantity
Il y a beaucoup de monde dans la salle. There are a lot of people in the room.
Aujourd’hui il y a du soleil. Today it is sunny (= There is sun).

Il y a + time expressions
Je suis rentré en France il y a 2 ans. I came back to France 2 years ago.
Il y a longtemps que j’habite au Cameroun. I have been living in Cameroon for a long time.

The negative form is il n’y a pas.
Il n’y a pas de soleil. There isn’t any sun.
Il n’y a pas longtemps que j’habite au Cameroun. I haven’t been living in Cameroon for a long time.

•  You will often hear French speakers shortening these phrases. So, il y a becomes y a and il n’y a pas becomes y a pas. This is informal.
Y a quelqu’un ? Non, y a personne ! Is anyone there? No, there’s nobody there!
Y a pas de problème ! No problem! (There’s no problem)

Note:
•  Il y a is invariable, this means it can be followed by a plural.
Il y a des nuages dans le ciel There are clouds in the sky.


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