Posts Tagged ‘j’en veux un’

In #1060, we started looking at how en is used in French. From that series of posts, you’ll remember that, loosely speaking, en means some, (some) of it, (some) of them.

J’en veux.
I want some.

J’en veux un.
I want one of them.

The meaning of donne-moi-z-en, then, isn’t too hard to figure out:

Give me some.
Give me some of it.
Give me some of them, etc.

Donne-moi-z-en deux.
Give me two of them.

But what’s that zed doing in there?

It’s there because it’s providing a buffer between the words moi and en, to avoid saying donne-moi en.

Although you’ll hear donne-moi-z-en, it’s important to remember that this is considered an informal usage heard in spoken language. It’s okay to use it with friends during conversations, but don’t use it on your French exam if you’re expected to use standard written grammar. In this case, use m’en instead of moi-z-en. Donne-m’en deux. Give me two of them.

Inspiration for this post: Donne-moi-z’en, Bernard Adamus

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One way we haven’t seen en used yet is when it appears with an imperative.

But first, remember from #1060 how you saw sentences like the ones below?

J’en achète un.
I buy one (of them).

J’en obtiens un.
I get one (of them).

J’en ai acheté un.
I bought one (of them).

J’en ai obtenu un.
I got one (of them).

In that post, you learned about where en goes in those sentences and what it means. If you haven’t read that post yet, start there.

I saw this sign in front of a shop in Montréal:


On the sign, we read:

Achetez-en 1
Obtenez-en 1
à 50% de rabais

Buy 1 (of them)
Get 1 (of them)
at half price

En means the same thing here as in #1060, but the position of it is different with the imperative. Take note of where it goes:

prends-en un!
prends-en deux!
achètes-en une!

take one (of them)!
take two (of them)!
buy one (of them)!

In the same way that you can’t say je veux un, you can’t say prends deux. Instead, you say j’en veux un (I want one, I want one of them) and prends-en deux (take two, take two of them).

But take note: when –er verbs (like acheter) are used in the imperative, second-person singular (i.e., the tu form), there’s no s on the end of the verb:

tu achètes
and not:


The s gets put back on when en follows:

achètes-en un!
achètes-en un nouveau!

buy some (of them)!
buy one (of them)!
buy a new one (of them)!

Keep reading about en:

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If you know the television show, you know the answer to the question: Tout le monde en parle.

There’s that en again… A reader of OffQc mentioned this show’s name after we looked at en the first time back in #1060. It’s a good starting point to look at another way en is used.

Remember how en goes before the conjugated verb? For example, j’en veux un. I want one (of them). En means of them here.

But en can also translate as about it, like in the television show title Tout le monde en parle. In fact, en can translate as a lot of things: of them, of it, about it, about them, some, some of it, some of them, none, none of it, none of them… (Have pity on the learner of English who has to learn all those. In French, on the other hand, you just have to say en.)

Let’s use tout le monde en parle as our model.

Tout le monde en parle.
Tout le monde en bénéficie.
Tout le monde en souffre.
Tout le monde en profite.
Tout le monde en rêve.

Loosely speaking, en means of it in all of these. Everybody’s talking of it. Everybody benefits of it. Everybody suffers of it. Everybody profits of it. Everybody dreams of it.

Of course, that’s not idiomatic English. In English, you say: Everybody’s talking about it. Everybody benefits from it. Everybody suffers from it. Everybody profits from it. Everybody dreams of it. But you can see how the sense behind them all is of it.

Maybe you noticed that with all the examples above, we can put de after the verb:

parler de quelque chose
bénéficier de quelque chose
souffrir de quelque chose
profiter de quelque chose
rêver de quelque chose

Je parle de mon problème.
J’en parle.

Je bénéficie de leur aide.
J’en bénéficie.

Je souffre de reflux gastrique.
J’en souffre.

Je profite du beau temps.
J’en profite.

Je rêve de partir en Australie.
J’en rêve.

With the past tense, remember that en goes before the auxiliary.

Tout le monde en a parlé.
Tu en as bénéficié.
J’en ai souffert.
Il en a profité.
J’en ai rêvé.

Keep reading about en:

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In an effort to turn all of you into experts on using en, here’s more help! If you haven’t yet read the entry from #1060 about how en works, start there first, then come back here.

In this post, there are no translations, no explanations. You learned how en works in #1060, so this post is just about seeing more examples to get things to sink in. Read these examples a few times (read them quickly), then leave it at that. You can come back and read them as often as you like.

The wording between parentheses is an informal equivalent.

J’en veux un.
J’en veux une.
J’en prends un.
J’en vois deux.
J’en mange une.

J’en ai vu un.
J’en ai mangé deux.
J’en ai pris cinq.
J’en ai perdu neuf.

Tu en prends deux (t’en prends deux).
Tu en veux cinq (t’en veux cinq).
Tu en manges une (t’en manges une).

Tu en as pris cinq (t’en as pris cinq).
Tu en as vu deux (t’en as vu deux).
Tu en as perdu une (t’en as perdu une).

Il en voit deux (y’en voit deux).
Il en veut deux (y’en veut deux).
Il en prend cinq (y’en prend cinq).

Il en a pris cinq (y’en a pris cinq).
Il en a mangé deux (y’en a mangé deux).
Il en a vu un (y’en a vu un).

J’en veux. Je n’en veux pas (j’en veux pas).
J’en ai mangé. Je n’en ai pas mangé (j’en ai pas mangé).
J’en ai vu. Je n’en ai pas vu (j’en ai pas vu).

Je veux en manger un.
Je veux en prendre deux.
Je veux en acheter dix.
Je veux en faire une.

Tu vas en manger deux.
Tu vas en prendre cinq.
Tu vas en faire une.

J’en prends un autre.
Je veux en prendre un autre.
J’en veux un troisième.
J’en veux un noir.
J’en veux une comme ça.

Il en prend une autre (y’en prend une autre).
Il veut en prendre une autre (y veut en prendre une autre).
Il en veut un troisième (y’en veut un troisième).
Il en veut un noir (y’en veut un noir).
Il en veut un comme ça (y’en veut un comme ça).

If you understand how en works but still find it difficult, just read these sentences over again periodically. It’ll all come together in your mind at some point. Don’t bother reading more explanations in an attempt to become better at it. Just read the examples above a few times (and every once in a while after that), then go do something else!

Keep reading about en:

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In this post, let’s review the basic use of the French en.

I want one.
J’en veux un.

To say I want one in French, you’ve got to include en. You can’t say je veux un. Instead, you say j’en veux un.


We can translate en as of them here. What we’re really saying when we say j’en veux un is I want one of them. In English, you have the choice of omitting of them. You can say I want one, or you can say I want one of them. In French, you don’t have that choice; you must include the en.

The English of them goes after the number: I want one of them. The French en goes before the verb: J’en veux un.

Read through these examples:

J’en veux un.
J’en veux deux.
J’en vois trois.
J’en mange quatre.
J’en prends cinq.

They mean:

I want one. I want one of them.
I want two. I want two of them.
I see three. I see three of them.
I eat four. I eat four of them.
I take five. I take five of them.

When you say j’en veux un, you’re necessarily talking about an object whose name is a masculine noun in French, like un oiseau or un gâteau or un vélo. If you’re talking about an object whose name is a feminine noun in French, like une chemise, you’ll say j’en veux une to say that you want one of them.

More examples:

Il en donne quatre.
Tu en veux neuf.
Tu en prends cinq.
Il en voit une.

They mean:

He gives four. He gives four of them.
You want nine. You want nine of them.
You take five. You take five of them.
He sees one. He sees one of them.

In spoken language, il en contracts to y’en. Tu en contracts to t’en. Here’s how those last examples can be heard in spoken language:

Y’en donne quatre.
T’en veux neuf.
T’en prends cinq.
Y’en voit une.

Here now are examples of en in sentences used in the past tense. Note the placement of en — it goes before the auxiliary and past participle:

J’en ai vu trois.
J’en ai mangé quatre.
J’en ai pris cinq.

They mean:

I saw three. I saw three of them.
I ate four. I ate four of them.
I took five. I took five of them.

You can’t say j’ai vu trois or j’ai mangé quatre. You’ve always got to include that en, even when speaking in an informal style. No exceptions… sorry!

Pronunciation tip: The ai in those last three examples above is really pronounced n’ai because of the liaison.

More past tense:

Il en a donné quatre.
Tu en as pris cinq.
Tu en as donné un.
Il en a vu une.

They mean:

He gave four. He gave four of them.
You took five. You took five of them.
You gave one. You gave one of them.
He saw one. He saw one of them.

In spoken language, those last four can come out like this instead:

Y’en a donné quatre.
T’en as pris cinq.
T’en as donné un.
Y’en a vu une.

Again, because of the liaison, a and as in these examples are really pronounced n’a.

Here are examples where en is used in sentences including a verb in the infinitive. Again, watch where the en goes:

Je veux en acheter un.
Je compte en faire quatre.
Je crois en voir cinq.
J’aimerais en faire dix.

They mean:

I want to buy one (of them).
I intend to make four (of them).
I believe I see five (of them).
I’d like to make ten (of them).

Can you say the following in French?

I see ten.
I bought two.
I want to buy one.
He ate four.
He wants to take five.
You took one.
You want to eat one.

Now you can also add to your knowledge saying things like this:

J’en veux un comme ça.
I want one (of them) like that.

J’en ai pris un troisième.
I took a third one (of them).

J’en veux un noir.
I want a black one (of them).

J’en veux une avec du fromage.
I want one (of them) with cheese.

J’en veux un autre.
I want another one (of them).

Je compte en faire d’autres.
I intend to make more (of them).

If you say j’en veux on its own not followed by anything else, it means I want some. You can use this with uncountable things — sugar and water, for example.

Don’t confuse j’en veux with je t’en veux. J’en veux means I want some, but je t’en veux means I’m upset with you. That’s because the expression en vouloir à quelqu’un means to be upset with someone.

Keep reading about en:

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