If you want your French to sound more advanced, one of the best ways is to understand how to use the French pronoun “en.”

Sure, you can construct proper sentences without these tiny words, but you’ll be doomed to forever sound like a beginner. And who wants that? Not us – our goal is to get you speaking fluidly as fast as possible.

So this week, we’re going to focus on how to use “en.”

EN replaces de + noun

1. In relation to QUANTITY or NUMBERS or ADJECTIVES

When discussing quantities of something, “de + noun” phrases are almost inevitable. In this context, “de” represents the preposition “of”, which indicates that a quantity, number or adjective is being discussed.

The adjective, adverb or quantity is always repeated at the end, even if that amount is none. To illustrate:

Combien de tomates voulez-vous? J’en voudrais six.”
(How many tomatoes do you want I would like six [of them])

Combien paires de chaussures as-tu? J’en ai beaucoup.
(How many pairs of shoes do you have?I have a lot [of them])

Est-ce que Marie a des frères? Oui, elle en a deux
(Does Marie have brothers? Yes, she has two [of them].)

J’ai acheté trois jolies robes, j’en ai acheté trois.
(I bought three nice dresses, I bought three nice ones)

Est-ce que tu as un Euro? Oui, j’en ai un.
(Do you have a Euro? Yes, I have one.)

Est-ce que vous avez une voiture? Non, nous n’en avons pas
(Do you (all) have a car?  No, we don’t have one.)

NOTE: It is NOT correct to say: “J’ai un” or “Non, nous n’avons pas une”. You must use “en” to indicate the quantity.

2. In relation to a THING, a LOCATION, or VERBS PRECEDED by DE

Je me souviens de ta première voiture…je m’en souviens
I remember your first car… I remember it

J’ai peur de la mort…j’en ai peur
I am afraid of death… I am afraid of it

Je reviens du Brésil…j’en reviens
I am coming back from Brasil… I am coming back from there

Est-ce tu as besoin d’aide? Oui, j’en ai besoin
Do you need some help? Yes, I need some

Ils s’occupent du projet? Non, ils n’en s’occupent pas. Jean s’en occupe
Are they handling the project? No, they’re not handling it. Jean is handling it.

Paul parle-t-il de son travail?
Does Paul talk about his job?

Oui, il en parle tout le temps!
Yes, he talks about it all the time!

Careful

When it comes to replacing a noun of person, you keep ‘DE’ and use the tonic form of the pronoun:

J’ai peur de ce professeur…J’ai peur de lui
I am afraid of this teacher…I am afraid of him

Elle est jalouse de sa soeur…elle est jalouse d’elle
She is jealous of her sister…she is jealous of her.

3. With PARTITIVE ARTICLES

A partitive article in French (du, de la, des) is an unknown quantity of something. In English, this translates to “some” or “any.” “En” replaces the partitive article and the noun. For example:

Avez-vous de la confiture?  Oui, j’en ai.
(Do you have any jam? Yes, I have some).

Boit-il du vin?  Non, il n’en boit pas.
(Does he drink [any] wine? No, he doesn’t drink any.)

Est-que tu as acheté du pain?  Non, j’en ai oublié d’acheter. J’en peux acheter plus tarde.
(Did you buy some bread? No, I forgot to buy some. I can buy some later.)

Do you have any questions about how to use the French pronoun “en”?  If so, feel free to write them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you! Or, of course, you can always contact us to discuss French lessons.