'On y Va' ('Let's Go') Is a French Invitation, Command, and Question

'On' takes the place of the first person plural, 'we,' in this expression

'On y va' ('Let's go') the girl tells her friend.
'On y va' ('Let's go') the girl tells her friend. Hero Images/Getty Images

On y va, pronounced o(n) nee va, is an informal expression, one of the most common in the French language, that means literally we're going (there). But in use, it means: let's go, wanna go?, ​here we go. 

The French expression on y va is a quick and easy way to:

  • suggest an outing
  • ask if others are ready to go
  • announce that it's time to leave
  • indicate the beginning of some activity

Why Use 'On'?

Notice that on takes the place of the first person plural, "we," in this expression.

But the on construction can also easily be replaced with the first person plural allons-y as a statement or question, while retaining the same meaning: 

  • Ils nous attendent. Allons-y. > They're waiting for us. Let's go. 

Generally speaking on, pronounced with a nasal "ohn" (listen) is the indefinite pronoun and literally means "one." It's often equivalent to the English passive voice, as in:

  • On ne dit pas ça. > That isn't said.

But on is also very often an informal replacement for "we," "you," "they," "someone," or "people in general." And that it how it functions in on y va.

Examples of 'On y Va'

  • Son nouveau film va ouvrir demain. On y va ? > His new movie opens tomorrow. Wanna go? / Are we going?
  • Le taxi est arrivé, on y va ? > The taxi is here, (is everyone) ready to go?
  • Voilà, j'ai fait la vaisselle. > On y va ! > There, I did the dishes. Let's go!
  • Il faut choisir une chanson pour notre sketch. On y va. > We need to choose a song for our sketch. Let's do it. / Let's get started. / Here goes.
  • Allez, monte, on y va. On peut devenir des héros ce soir. > Come on, get in the car, let's go. We can make heroes of ourselves tonight.
  • Je fais du chili pour la collecte de fond. Je m'en fous. on y va. > I'm making chili for the fundraiser. I don't give a damn. Let's go.
  • Tout le monde met ses chaussures et on y va.Everybody, put on your shoes and let's go.
  • Allez mon grand, on y va, écarte les jambes. > Okay, let's do this. Come on, spread them.

Synonyms of 'On y Va'

  •  Est-ce que tu veux y aller ? > Do you want to go?
  •  Ça te dit ? > Interested?
  •  On peut y aller si tu veux. > We can go if you like.
  • Est-ce que tu es prêt / vous êtes prêts ? > Are you ready to go?

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Lawless, Laura K. "'On y Va' ('Let's Go') Is a French Invitation, Command, and Question." ThoughtCo, Aug. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/on-y-va-vocabulary-1371326. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 2). 'On y Va' ('Let's Go') Is a French Invitation, Command, and Question. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/on-y-va-vocabulary-1371326 Lawless, Laura K. "'On y Va' ('Let's Go') Is a French Invitation, Command, and Question." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/on-y-va-vocabulary-1371326 (accessed January 18, 2018).