French Grammar Explained /

The pronoun EN

Remember the word en?
Yes, I do! We use it like the English preposition in: j'habite en France, en Angleterre...
Exactly.
Are we reviewing this again?
No. Actually, en can have a completely different meaning in French.
For instance, do you remember how to say "do you need water?" in French?
Yes, wait... Tu as besoin d'eau ?
Great! I'm very thirsty and I do need water, so I would answer:
Oui, j'en ai besoin.
But what does the en mean here?
Let's look again. What do I need?
You need water. So... the en is for the water?
Exactement ! While in English the answer is: yes, I do (need water), in French you have to replace the thing/word that you need with the pronoun en. Let's look at another example:
Tu as besoin de bananes ?
Do you need bananas?
Oui, j'en ai besoin.
Yes, I do (need them).
Is this only applicable to the expression avoir besoin de?
Good question.
The word en replaces a quantity that is introducted by the preposition:
de + an object (d'eau, de bananes...)
But watch out!
en will also replace partitive articles:
du, de l', de la et des.
Uh, can I have an example please?
Tu as du fromage dans le frigo ?
Do you have cheese in the fridge?
Oui, j'en (= du fromage) ai.
Yes, I have.
en always goes before the verb:
J'en ai, tu en as, etc.
When the quantity is specified, you should add it at the end of the sentence:
Je vais acheter 5 bouteilles.
Je vais en acheter 5.
I’m going to buy 5 bottles.
I’m going to buy 5 (of them).