I have heard the following dialogue in the TV series "La Mante":

  • Comissaire Ferracci: Dans votre lettre, vous disiez que vous aviez le pouvoir de m'aider
  • Jeanne: Vous en êtes où?
  • Comissaire Ferracci: Je ne peux rien vous dire.

Context: Jeanne Deber is a serial killer who was arrested by Ferracci and has been locked up in a prison for 25 years. After a copycat starts to replicate her murders, she sends a letter to Ferraci offering her help. They say the above lines when they meet.

I have read in https://www.linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/en-etre/ that "en être" means "to participate in something", but I'm not sure how it fits in the above dialogue. What is the difference between "vous êtes où" and "vous en êtes où" in this context?


Vous êtes où would imply location— “where are you?”. Vous en êtes où gives a sense of “How far along are you?”—in a project, reading a book...and in this case, in an investigation. The en isn’t exactly translated as an English word by itself, like y often isn’t.

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'Vous en êtes où?' means Something like (in this context) 'How far are you in your investigations?'. So it's just a way to get information on how Advanced is Something (as and object, a book or anything) or how Advanced is someone into Something (as an action, a research etc.).

might be a bit messy, but keep in mind it's just to get news on Something. 'Vous êtes où' is 'Where are you?' so it can't be associated with 'Vous en êtes où?'.

'Vous êtes où' is used to get geographic informations when 'vous en êtes où' is used to get advancement state of Something.

Also 'en être' is not really used alone and it gets its sense with the sentence as a whole.

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  • En être can be used alone: it means then "to participate": Sais-tu qui vient au concert ? - J'en suis. OR even as euphemism for "to be homosexual": il en est. – Greg Jun 16 at 5:34
  • ah yes you are right, guess i Don't use it that much alone – Louis BERTRAND Jun 16 at 15:24

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