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Le temps idéal pour une promenade. On en a de la chance.

I'm in two minds about the function of the "en":

  1. Le temps idéal pour une promenade. On a de la chance d'avoir le temps idéal.

The "en" refers to "d'avoir le temps idéal". In this case, however, I suppose the sentence should be phrased as "on a la chance d'avoir le temps idéal" without "de" before the "la".

  1. Le temps idéal pour une promenade. On en a,{comma} de la chance.

Here, the "en" serves as an emphasis, referring to "de la chance". But I notice the lack of a comma in the original sentence.

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  • I think that the second version, the emphasis, is the correct way. In the very first sentence, On en a de la chance, we could drop the en without any problem. But more than only de, it's de la chance.
    – Lyzvaleska
    Oct 26, 2017 at 7:19
  • You are right about your second proposition. There should be a comma but it's so much used that we probably often forget it. I have nothing to add to your analysis. Oct 26, 2017 at 7:22
  • Hi. What do you think of the 1st interpretatoin? Oct 26, 2017 at 7:25
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    The (double) negative is mandatory for the sentence to be understood as intended. Est-ce qu'on s'en fiche de savoir... would be a real, open question (answer: oui, on s'en fiche or non, on s'en fiche pas) while Est-ce qu'on s'en fiche pas de savoir... is rhetorical and its implicit answer is: ouais, t'as raison. On s'en fiche.
    – jlliagre
    May 2, 2019 at 14:39
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    @jlliagre A great answer, or rather, a great comment. :D Perhaps not for you, but from an English speaker's (or, for that matter, a Russian speaker's) perspective, the negation of "s’en ficher/balancer" (as opposed to countless other verbs) doesn't come that easily. But now I could finally let it sink in! May 2, 2019 at 15:01

2 Answers 2

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I hope I can help you. (TLDR below)

In fact, in this case : « On en a de la chance. », the « en » acts as a pronom personnel. It is a quite particular one like the « y » you can meet in « J'y suis allé ».

Both are used as a replacement for a complement (or even fo aslice of a sentence that could be huge)

« Je suis à cet endroit, je reste à cet endroit. » --> « J'y suis, j'y reste. »

« J'ai de la chance. » --> « J'en ai. »

The en and y are used when everyone inside the conversation understands at what these two pronouns refers to. They are totally implicit.

In your particular case, one could argue that it is a grammar/syntax mistake because they repeat the same information twice (en is supposed to replace de la chance ) In common french, people used to do it to put more emphasis on it.

TLDR : « en » is a way of implicit replacement of a part of the sentence everyone inside the conversation understands. Two letters that could replace from few words to a whole paragraph. In your example, the en and the words it is supposed to replace (de la chance) are both present. It is a mistake often made in common french to put emphasis on something which is so said twice.

The comma could be used if you want to be a proper grammar nazi. :)

« J'en ai, de la chance ». It becomes now a perfectly ponctuated sentence but semantically, it is still a mistake.

The form : « J'en ai de la chance » is still accepted and is certainly going to be the norm.

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It is your second guess. en refers to a quantity, a rough translation could be some.

The coma is still used quite often, but as it disappeared orally it influenced the writing and people tend to skip it. Though it sounds weird, it could be roughly translated as:

We got some, luck!

as in

Luck, we sure got some!

It is almost not used in english tho, and you would more easily say:

We sure got lucky!

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