FR: il y avait / il y a eu

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by sofiastone, May 11, 2007.

  1. sofiastone Senior Member

    Qu est-ce que c'est la difference entre....

    il y avait
    il y a eu

    en Anglais s'il vous plait?

  2. victoria1 Senior Member

    Mauritius - English & French
    There was: il y avait
    There has been; il y a eu
  3. sofiastone Senior Member

    Merci Beaucoup Victoria1 :)
  4. A day in Eireann Senior Member

    France - French
    The difference is similar to the following option in English.

    For the general idea it's clearer with a different verb, so first let's say you are asking about "lire" ( to read)

    Je lisais un livre quand il surgit de nulle part

    I was reading a book when he came out of nowhere.

    J'ai lu un livre sur l'histoire d'un fou la semaine dernière.

    Last week, I read a book about a lunatic.

    The form " avait (imparfait) is used to emphasize the fact that an action lasted a while, or simply to point out which of two actions lasted longer.

    The "a eu" ( passé composé) pin points an action to a specific date or emphasize the fact that the action was sudden and short-lived.

    The imparfait in English is usually best translated by the past tense plus your verb ending in "ing" ( seeing grammar wordings change the world over, I let you decide on how to call that form: progressive, gerondif, etc)
    E.G: I have been walking for ages
    or I was walking for ages

    The passé composé is the same tense but without the progressive form, so it becomes:
    I have walked
    or I walked
  5. sofiastone Senior Member

    thanks eiren for your detailed explanation!
  6. Bachatamor Senior Member

    Et dans la phrase "hier il y avait / il y a eu beaucoup d'embouteillages"?
  7. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    Both are possible, but il y avait and il y a eu mean two different things.

    Il y avait → background/context information. You expect it to be followed by something else: Il y avait beaucoup d'embouteillages, donc je suis allé travailler en vélo.
    Il y a eu
    → foreground/important action. That means the traffic is the actual theme of your sentence (it's no longer about you taking your bike to go to work).


    She had a car → Elle avait une voiture [BACKGROUND INFORMATION]
    She got a car → Elle a eu une voiture [MAJOR EVENT]

    She was 18 → Elle avait 18 ans [BACKGROUND INFORMATION]
    She turned 18 → Elle a eu 18 ans [MAJOR EVENT].
  8. Bachatamor Senior Member


    Donc, dans les actualités on entendra plutôt "Hier il y a eu beaucoup d'embouteillages sur les routes..." (comme c'est une information importante)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  9. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member


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