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Il y avait means there was but seen as it is the imperfect tense shouldn't it mean there used to be?? Does it mean both?

  • Yes, it's a past tense. And it can be translated by a few different past tenses in English depending on the context. – Luke Sawczak Oct 10 '17 at 23:27
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That depends, for example:

Il y avait une maison ici

means both "there used to be a house" and "there was a house here".

On the other hand:

Il y avait un camion garé ici

means "there was a truck parked here" while:

There used to be a truck parked here

would be better translated by:

Un camion était souvent garé ici

or

Il y avait un camion qui se garait ici

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