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French grammar - There is and there are - Il y a

There is & there are - Il y a

The construction il y a is used to express existence in French.

In English we use 'there is' or 'there are'.

-- The il is 'it', the y is 'there' and the a is the il conjugation of the verb avoir ('to have').

The form does not change whether we are referring to the existence of one thing (singular) or of multiple of things (plural).

A common question form is by inversion: Y a-t-il..?

Il y a un élève dans la classe.
There is a student in the classroom.
Il y a deux élèves dans la classe.
There are two students in the classroom.
Il y a un nuage blanc dans le ciel.
There is one white cloud in the sky.

nuage (f) means 'cloud'

Il y a trois cuillères et deux fourchettes sur la table.
There are three spoon and two forks on the table.

cuillère (f) means 'spoon'

fourchette (f) means 'fork'

Il y a douze œufs dans chaque boîte.
There are twelve eggs in each box.
Il y a une tache sur la moquette.
There is a stain on the carpet.

tache (f) means 'stain'

moquette (f) means 'carpet'

Il y a un pommier dans le jardin.
There's an apple tree in the garden.

pommier (m) means 'apple tree'

Y a-t-il un taxi dans la rue ?
Is there a taxi in the street?

taxi (m) means 'taxi' or 'cab'

Pourquoi y a-t-il une souris dans la maison ?
Why is there a mouse in the house?

souris (m) means 'mouse'

Où y a-t-il un policier ?
Where is there a policeman?

policier (m) means 'policeman'

Pourquoi y a-t-il une chaussure dans le lit ?
Why is there a shoe in the bed?

lit (m) means 'bed'

Y a-t-il un problème ?
Is there are problem?
Il y a plusieurs solutions possibles.
There are several possible solutions.

plusieurs means 'several'

solution (f) means 'solution'

possible (m) means 'possible'

Qu'est-ce qu'il y a ?
What is the matter?

A common way to ask 'What is the matter?' or 'What is wrong'' Literally 'what is there?'