Idioms with "il y a"
The phrase il y a is very commonly used in French. It can be translated literally as "it has there" but has very different meanings in different contexts.
1. there is, there are
Il y a un cinéma où j'habite. - There is a cinema where I live.
Il y a trois voitures garées dans ma rue. - There are three cars parked on my street.
2. it is (in reference to weather)
Il y a du soleil. - It is sunny.
Il y a des nuages. -It is cloudy.
3. ago (when followed by a period of time)
Je t'ai rencontré il y a trois ans. - I met you three years ago.
Il est parti il y a cinq minutes. - He left five minutes ago.
Il y a is the present tense: a is the third person singular conjugation of avoir. To use this expression in any other tense or mood, just conjugate avoir accordingly.
Il y avait un cinéma. - There was a cinema.
Il y aura du soleil. - It will be sunny.
Je veux qu'il y ait une solution. - I want there to be a solution.