1

Don't put it there = Ne le mettez pas là

but

We will go there tonight = Nous y irons ce soir

Why do you use là in the first case, but y in the second case? Is there a rule-of-thumb, or is either acceptable in any context?

1

"Là" is an adverb refering to a place, "Y" is a pronoun that is often used as a place complement.

You could say "Ne l'y mettez pas", or "Nous irons là ce soir", but the meaning is slightly different.

While "Là" refers to a place, "Y" refers to the place where something is.

For instance:

"You see this restaurant? I go there!"

  1. "Tu vois ce restaurant? J'y vais!" -> It suggests that you go inside the restaurant.
  2. "Tu vois ce restaurant? Je vais là!" -> Here, you go to the place where the restaurant is, not necessarily inside.

Can you see the difference now?

  • So is là basically being used for "where it is", whereas y is used for "there" in such cases? In your example above, it sounds like the the first case with y is the more common intention, right? Usually, you would want to mean "I go in the restaurant," not "I go where the restaurant is, but not necessarily inside". Thanks! This is very helpful. – bluescreen Sep 30 '16 at 0:00

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