y avoir

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French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From y + avoir; literally, “to have there”. Compare Catalan haver-hi and Spanish hay.

Verb[edit]

y avoir

  1. (impersonal, transitive) there be.
    Il y a deux raisons.
    There are two reasons.

Conjugation[edit]

This verb is defective, only conjugated in the third-person singular

Usage notes[edit]

  • The subject of y avoir must always be il (sometimes indirectly, as in Il semble y avoir un problème “There seems to be a problem”). Thus, avoir always appears in one of its third-person singular forms. This is unlike be in English for there to be, which often takes plural forms.
  • While the sense is idiomatic, the syntax is the ordinary syntax for y and avoir; thus N’y a-t-il pas de fromage ? “Is there no cheese ?”, Il y en a deux “There are two [of them]”, and so on.

Related terms[edit]