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Consider the following context: Un grand magasin est situé en ville. What would be a better continuation and why?

On peut y acheter des meubles.

or

Là, on peut acheter des meubles.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The first continuation is definitely the best. The use of is more or less reserved to oral language to refer to the current location of the speaker or a location he can point to. According to the TLF, :

Adverbe de lieu (plus rarement de temps) marquant le lieu où se trouve le locuteur ou un lieu plus ou moins éloigné de lui.

[Accompagné d'un geste ou déterminé précédemment dans le discours] Dans tel lieu (autre que celui où se trouve le locuteur, désigné par lui et plus ou moins éloigné de lui).

may also combine with complements là-bas (this one means “slightly far away”), là-haut, là-devant, là-derrière

In some formulations like être là ou jusque-là, the world has a figurative or temporal value. Also “Là où [j'étais]” is used for “the place where [I was]”. Those uses are common in written language as well. But to refer to a previously mentioned location (as opposed to an abstract or a new specific location you designate), whenever the pronoun y can be used, use it instead of the demonstrative adverb .

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