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Could anyone tell me, please what is the meaning of 't' in these sentences?
Qu' y a-t-il sur la table?(What there has it .......)
Y a-t-il un cahier sur la table?(There has it....)
Y a--t-il des cahiers sur la table?(there has it...)
Combien de couteaux y a-t-il sur la table? (there has it)
Are the word-by-word translations correct?
I don't think it has a meaning as such.It is more a use.I think it allows you to use "a" before "il" more easily.
The word-by-word translations are correct but I assume you know that is not what the phrase actually means.
George is right, the euphonic "t" is used just because it sounds better. Here's another forum's thread on the subject: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=3669
As he said, word-by-word is correct, but the meanings are, respectively, "What is (there) [on the table]?" and "Is there [...]?"
Thank you both for your replies. They are very helpful. But the 't' is not optional, is it?
You're welcome :-)
No, it's not optional. Just know that this is more a written form, and not usually used when you speak. Orally, you'd probably hear: "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a sur la table?" and "Est-ce qu'il y a un cahier sur la table?", which mean exactly the same as "(Qu')y a-t-il...", but is more common in everyday speech.