“En” is one of the most important word in French. It can either be a preposition, or a pronoun (in which case it has no English equivalent).
“En” as a preposition
When “en” is a preposition, it’s almost always used directly in front of a noun with no article, or after certain verbs:
1) For a destination or a location:
2) For a point in time:
3) For a duration of time:
4) For a means (of transport most of the time):
5) To describe what a thing is made of:
6) With a gerund (often to describe a manner):
7) For an appearance, a characteristic, a condition:
8) For a “transformation”:
“En” as a pronoun
A pronoun means that “en” replaces a noun. The problem is to know when to choose “en” because there are many other pronouns in French which are used depending on the way the noun is being used.
For “en”, you have to understand two main points:
1) “En” replaces a noun with a notion of quantity.
This quantity is introduced
- either by a number:
- or by the article “de or d’ ” (and its variants “de l’, du, des, de la”) for unspecified quantities:
Note that if there is a number, an adverb of quantity, or an expression of quantity, you must repeat it when you use “en”.
Remember that “pas” (of the negation) is also considered a quantity (zero), so you also have to say it.
2) “En” replaces an inanimate noun (not a person) introduced by a verb followed by the preposition “de” (not a quantity here).
There are many verbs which often use the preposition “de” in French (like “se souvenir de”, “parler de” or “jouer de”). You can check them out in this article about the preposition “de” to practice making sentences with the pronoun “en”.
Remember, when the noun introduces a person, you must use a stress pronoun instead of “en”: moi, toi, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, elles
- Here’s a few common expressions using “en”:
- As “en” is very often used by French people, it’s also subject to many “glidings” (“enchaînements” in French). In addition, its letter “n” at the end also creates many liaisons which makes it even more confusing for English speakers.
For example, the sentence:
is often pronounced
The best way to learn these expressions, pronunciations and all these grammar rules is in the context of an everyday life dialogue. That’s why I strongly recommend you check the Blog French Course which focus on real life dialogues with audio recordings at slow and normal speed to master today’s spoken French.