There's this one question in my textbook, asking us to replace "le musée" with a pronoun, in this sentence: "Nous allons visiter le musée"

The class is torn between the following answers: "Nous allons le visiter" And "Nous allons y visiter"

Which one is right , and why? I personally say the first one is right.

2 Answers 2


Nous allons le visiter is correct. Le musée is a direct object, it is a masculine noun, therefore le is the right pronoun to replace it.

Y would be ok if it were to replace a place complement, which is not the case in the sentence.

Compare with this one:

Nous allons visiter l'exposition Picasso au musée.

Then "au musée" is a place complement and can be replaced by "y":

Nous allons y visiter l'exposition Picasso.


Y may retain its original meaning as an adverb, with the sense of there but its position is always of an object pronoun.

Sachant que vous y seriez. Knowing that you would be there.

Paul y a été envoyé. Paul was sent there.

As a pronoun, y represents a thing or things in the Dative or governed by the prepositions à, en, dans. Hence:

On entendait les ordres, mais on n'y obéissait (i.e. les ordres) plus. (obéir à qqch)

La maison n'était pas loin. Elle y a couru.

Je n'ai pas confiance en ces choses. Je n'y ai aucune confiance.

Il pensait à sa thèse. Il y pensait sans cesse.

Il est impossible de pénétrer dans le château. Il est impossible d'y pénétrer.

Y may be used impersonally, referring to a clause or idea.

S'il gardait le silence, c'est qu'il y était obligé. (Musset)

EDIT Initially, I haven't answered directly your question. So I add this as an "appendix".

Thus in your case:

"Nous allons visiter le musée" => Nous allons le visiter.

Le replaces here le musée.

On the contrary,

Nous sommes au musée (à+le) => Nous y sommes (meaning we are there).

For y to replace a noun, the noun must come with a preposition (au musée here).


Nous irons au musée. => Nous y irons.


  1. H. Ferrar: A French Reference Grammar, p. 202.

  2. M. Offold: A Student Grammar of French, p. 184.

EDIT 2 The expression Je n'y confiance (où y remplace en) is not encountered anymore in French. See the discussion here y et avoir confiance en

  • Nice, but you haven't spelled out the implication for this question.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 1, 2018 at 12:38
  • @LukeSawczak Certainly! I add sth in order to reply to the question directly.
    – Dimitris
    Apr 1, 2018 at 13:09
  • Merci ! Upvoté.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 1, 2018 at 13:47
  • Je te remercie également !
    – Dimitris
    Apr 1, 2018 at 15:53
  • "Je n'y ai aucune confiance" sounds very odd to my native ears, but I must admit I can't explain why. I would rather say "je n'ai aucune confiance en elles". Maybe because the "en" does not inidcate a direction or a location here ? Similarly, for eg "j'ai confiance en la médecine", I would say "j'ai confiance en elle", not "j'y ai confiance".
    – Greg
    Apr 1, 2018 at 19:40

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