FR: "en" replaces "de" + proposition

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by sensa, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. sensa Senior Member

    English, Canada
    when do I use EN according to this rule?:

    en remplace aussi de + preposition si le verbe a la même construction de + nom

    ex. vous rendez-vous compte de ce que vous faites?
    oui, je m'en rends compte.

    why is en used in that example but not this:

    oubliez-vous quelquefois de fermer votre porte?
    oui, j'oublie de le faire.

    why is the direct object pronoun used in the second example?
  2. micka

    micka Senior Member


    We always say "se rendre compte de quelque chose" whereas we way "faire quelque chose". The "de" in the second sentence is only the way to build an infinitive sentence and does not belong to the verb.
    So, the rule works in this case.

    Other exemples :
    "J'ai besoin de manger" => "J'en ai besoin" because we say "avoir besoin de quelque chose"
    "J'ai envie de partir" => "J'en ai envie" because we say "avoir envie de quelque chose"

    I hope my explanation helps you out.
  3. sensa Senior Member

    English, Canada
    so you only use en to replace de + preposition in sayings that require or come with the de?
  4. micka

    micka Senior Member

    I would like to tell you that the rule is that simple, but for instance, we could say :

    - Veux-tu prendre une pomme ?
    => Oui, j'en prends deux

    Here, we use "en" again and there's no "de" in the first sentence.
    I hope somebody will be able to give you more details about this rule. You should try to check if there's some threads dealing with this question.
  5. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    You have a typo there, that will make a big difference in helping you to understand this rule! :)

    A proposition is a statement. A préposition is a part of speech. De already IS a préposition, so you will never have de + préposition. :p

    So the rules says that you can use "en" to replace [de + statement] after a verb as long as that verb could also be followed by [de + noun] in a different situation.

    Let's look at your first example:

    Vous rendez-vous compte de ce que vous faites ? (Do you realize what you did?) The underlined part is the proposition - it's a statement made up of several words, including the verb "faire." What if we didn't have a whole statement there, and instead we just had a noun? Would the sentence have to change structure? Let's take a look: Vous rendez-vous compte de votre erreur ? Now instead of having a whole statement, we just have a noun: do you realize your mistake? Obviously, we did not need to change the structure of the French sentence: the verbe se rendre compte de can be followed by a noun or by a whole phrase, and it doesn't change structure. This means we can replace the underlined part with en, no matter what is there. So yes, you can say oui, je m'en rends compte. (Yes, I realize it.)

    Now let's look at your second example:

    Oubliez-vous quelquefois de fermer votre porte ? (Do you sometimes forget to close your door?) Again, the proposition is underlined. What if we didn't have a whole long phrase, and instead we just had a noun: "Do you sometimes forget your keys?" In French, we must say Oubliez-vous quelquefois vos clés ? The "de" disappeared! We were required to change the structure in order to have a noun after the verb oublier. This means that we can't replace "de fermer votre porte" with en, even though there is a "de" there. Instead, you need to keep the whole oublier de intact, and you can only shorten the sentence as far as oui, j'oublie de le faire = Yes, I forget to do it, or oui, j'oublie de la fermer = Yes, I forget to close it.

    And here is Micka's example:

    J'ai besoin de manger = I need to eat. What if we had a noun there instead of the verb "to eat"? What if you wanted to say, "I need the fork." This would be j'ai besoin de la fourchette. As you can see, avoir besoin de can be followed by either a noun or a verbal expression, without needing to change form. This means that you can replace the [de + xxx] with en --> j'en ai besoin. Now if that en is "to eat," then we would say "I need to," but if it replaces "the fork," we would of course say, "I need it."

    So every time you want to replace [de + expression] by en when you have verb + [de + xxx], you need to ask yourself: What if instead of xxx=expression, I had xxx=noun? Would the sentence still work? If the answer is yes, you can use en. If the answer is no, you can't.

    I hope that's clear... :)
  6. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    Wow! That was a brilliant explanation. I never properly understood this point before. Just one clarification: Is it also possible to replace de fermer votre porte with a direct object pronoun, e.g., Je l'oublie, instead of j'oublie de le faire? Thanks.
  7. itka Senior Member

    Brilliant explanation, jann' !

    Oubliez-vous quelquefois de fermer votre porte ?
    ---> Oubliez-vous quelquefois de le faire ?
    - Oui, j'oublie quelquefois de le faire

    I wouldn't say : Oui, je l'oublie. The verb is missing... but, in spoken french, you could hear such a sentence.

    Better, in colloquial french :
    - Oui, ça m'arrive ! (it happens to me)

    Oubliez-vous quelquefois votre parapluie ?
    ---> L'oubliez-vous quelquefois ?
    - Oui, je l'oublie quelquefois.

    And as well :
    - Oui, ça m'arrive !
  8. sensa Senior Member

    English, Canada

    you are my hero.

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