Free French Lessons
Lesson 38. Vocabulary
Chez is one of those few French words with no exact English equivalent. It’s a preposition that can be literally translated as "at the home of" or "at the establishment of," as Alex Terrier uses it when describing his early music influences:
Ensuite j’ai découvert chez mes parents des disques trente-trois tours....
Then I discovered at my parents’ place some thirty-three rpm records....
It can also be used in front of a surname to indicate a family household:
Chez les Marchal, le bac c’est une affaire de famille.
At the Marchals', the bac is a family affair.
Cap. 23, Le Journal: Le baccalauréat - Part 1
(Note that French surnames don’t take an extra s when pluralized: les Marchal.)
Or it can be used with disjunctive pronouns (moi, toi, soi, etc.) to mean "at my house," "at your house," or even just "at home":
L'hiver, les gens préfèrent rester chez eux....
In the winter, people prefer to stay at home....
You can also use chez for businesses, offices, restaurants, and other commercial locations:
Je suis pizzaman chez F&F Pizza, un shift par semaine.
I’m a pizza man at F&F Pizza, one shift per week.
Cap. 2, F&F Pizza: Chez F&F - Part 1
J’ai rendez-vous chez le dentiste et je suis en retard!
I have an appointment at the dentist and I’m late!
Cap. 10, Micro-Trottoirs: Art ou science?
But chez doesn’t only refer to buildings! Quite often, you will also see it used more figuratively. For example, just as "at home" can mean "in one’s house," "in one's country/native land," and just "familiar" in general, chez soi (or chez nous, chez moi, etc.) carries all those meanings as well:
On se sentait absolument chez nous.
We felt right at home.
Cap. 22, Les Nubians: Le multiculturalisme
Finally, when describing something "about" or "in" a person, "among" a group of people, or "in the work of" an author or artist, chez is the word to use:
Je l’ai retrouvée, je l’ai vue chez toutes les femmes, toutes les filles
I recognized it, I saw it in all the women, all the girls
Les pâtes sont très populaires chez les Italiens.
Pasta is very popular among Italians.
Il y a beaucoup de figures bizarres chez Salvador Dalí.
There are many bizarre figures in the work of Salvador Dalí.
We chez Yabla encourage you to speak French as much as you can chez vous!