y avoir

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From y (there) + avoir (to have), literally “to have there”; derived from Middle French y avoir, from Old French i avoir, from Latin hīc (here) and habēre (to have). Compare Catalan haver-hi and Spanish haber.



y avoir

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

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.


This verb is impersonal and is conjugated only in the third-person singular.

Related terms[edit]

Middle French[edit]


Old French i avoir, from Latin hīc (here) and habēre (to have).


y avoir (impersonal)

  1. there be
    • 1488, Jean Dupré, Lancelot du Lac, page 77:
      Il y a ung chevalier en ceste forest le plus grant et le plus merveilleux que vos veissiez oncques.
      There is a knight in this forest, the greatest and most marvellous that you will ever see.