Posts Tagged ‘y a qu’à’

The expression "y a qu'à" in the form of all the Americas, Yes, really.

The expression “y a qu’à” in the form of all the Americas. Yes, really.

I can hear you already…

“Felix, you’re crazy. There’s no such thing as ‘yawka’ in French.”

Oh yes there is!

It’s just not spelled that way. When you’re learning a language, do you ever find yourself turning that incomprehensible thing you heard into a weird word… like “yawka”?

Enough suspense!
What’s “yawka”?

In her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Maude Schiltz uses the mysterious sounding “yawka.” In an email, she tells her friends that if they want to join her and Chrystian for a birthday supper, they just have to call him up and let him know:

[…] vous êtes les bienvenus! Y a qu’à téléphoner à Chrystian pour signaler votre présence : 514.555.1111.

You’re welcome (to join us)! Just call Chrystian to let us know you’ll be there: 514.555.1111.

= y a qu’à
= il n’y a qu’à
= il suffit de
= just!

Il n’y a qu’à more literally means something like “all there is to do is…,” but we can simply say it means “just,” followed by a verb in its infinitive form.

Avoir in present, third-person singular (il a) is pronounced â, and you’ll remember that â sounds like “aww” in Québec. This means that â and à don’t sound the same.

Besoin d’aide? Y a qu’à demander!
Need help? Just ask!

Si je me trompe, y a qu’à me le dire.
If I’m mistaken, just tell me.

Remember that y a qu’à is an informal spoken form. Formal writing and speaking uses il n’y a qu’à instead.

But how does il n’y a qu’à become y a qu’à anyway?

First, remember that francophones love to drop the ne in negative constructions when speaking informally. In this expression, the que is enough to signal that it’s in the negative. So, when we drop the ne, this leaves us with il y a qu’à.

Next, remember that il is pronounced informally as i. This gives us i y a qu’à. But when i and y a come together, it’s easier to just morph it all together.

Yawka? Y a qu’à.
Mystère résolu!

_ _ _

French quote written by Maude Schiltz in Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013.

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