I'm reading La Fuite de Monsieur Monde by Georges Simenon. It contains this passage:

S'il avait osé, il aurait dit: – Un complet de tout le monde. Il en pendait dans toute la maison.

I've understood that the sort of suit he wanted was on display throughout the shop. But I'm puzzled by the en.

Could someone please explain what it expresses?

  • From what I can tell, the text is not formatted like so and the sentence does not end with maison and a period...
    – user3177
    Jan 10, 2016 at 9:17
  • @Legomononc'bléd'Ingres: You're right. Sorry to have confused you. I typed 3 lines but my formatting was overridden.The unexpressed speech ended with "monde", and the narrative resumed with "Il". That last sentence ended with "maison" and a period.
    – justerman
    Jan 10, 2016 at 13:59
  • 1
    @Legomononc'bléd'Ingres: You're right. I'm un peu embarrassed.
    – justerman
    Jan 11, 2016 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


You have a conjunction of 2 constructions :

An impersonal form: Il + verb (about events) + real subject

Il pendait des complets dans toute la maison = Des complets pendaient dans toute la maison.

Il pleuvait des trombes d'eau = Des trombes d'eau pleuvaient.

Pronoun personal en = replaces indefinite noun, or COI preceded by de

Je voyais des complets = J'en voyais.

Je parlais de ces choses = J'en parlais.

Je viens de Paris = J'en viens.

like y is for COI preceded by à:

Je pense à ça = J'y pense.

J'arrive à Paris = J'y arrive.

  • Yes it was the impersonal use of "il" that led me astray. I can see now that, in my terms, it is being used as a placeholder for the true subject. And while I'm familiar with this usage with verbs such as avoir, être and falloir, I hadn't realised that its application was wider. Thank you.
    – justerman
    Jan 10, 2016 at 9:19

en replaces/refers to simply un complet.

Il en pendait dans toute la maison ⇔ Il pendait un complet dans toute la maison

By ⇔ I mean equivalence of the 2 sentences.


Le pronom en remplace un nom introduit par de ou par un article partitif ou indéfini qui expriment une quantité indéfinie.

  • Thank you. As I've mentioned to Guillaume, it was the use of "il" as a placeholder for the true subject which confused me.
    – justerman
    Jan 10, 2016 at 9:22

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