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A Rendezvous with Rendez-Vous

The word rendez-vous is the second-person plural imperative form of the verb se rendre ("to go" or "to present oneself"). It literally means "go!" or "present yourself!" But rather than a command, you'll hear it most often used as a noun—un rendez-vous. In English, "a rendezvous" is another word for "a meeting." Un rendez-vous means that and much more, as you'll see in this lesson.

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If you're a regular Yabla French user, you'll recognize this word from the final caption of nearly every video in our Voyage en France series:

 

Je vous donne rendez-vous très bientôt pour de nouvelles découvertes.

I will meet you very soon for some new discoveries.

Caption 50, Voyage en France - Mont-Valérien

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Donner rendez-vous à (literally, "to give meeting to") is to arrange to meet someone, to set up a date or an appointment with someone. Indeed, besides "a meeting," un rendez-vous can also be "a date" or "an appointment": 

 

C'est au premier rendez-vous qu'ils franchissent le pas

It's on the first date that they take that step

Caption 5, Grand Corps Malade - Roméo kiffe Juliette

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J'ai rendez-vous chez le dentiste et je suis en retard!

I have an appointment at the dentist and I'm late!

Caption 10, Micro-Trottoirs - Art ou science?

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Note the discrepancy between the French and the English in that last example: when talking about having an appointment with someone, you don't have to say j'ai un rendez-vousJ'ai rendez-vous will suffice.

 

In French, you don't "make" an appointment with someone—you "take" (prendre) one:

 

Aujourd'hui, on va apprendre à prendre rendez-vous chez le médecin.

Today we're going to learn how to make an appointment at the doctor's.

Caption 1, Manon et Clémentine - Rendez-vous chez le médecin

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And if something is by appointment only, it's sur rendez-vous ("on appointment"):

 

au trente-neuf rue Saint-Pavin des Champs sur rendez-vous

at thirty-nine Saint-Pavin des Champs Street by appointment

Caption 38, Le Mans TV - Le Mans: Ouverture d'un nouvel atelier d'artistes

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Un rendez-vous can refer both to a meeting and a meeting place:

 

Ce château était un rendez-vous de chasse.

This castle was a rendezvous point for hunting.

Caption 26, Le Mans TV - Mon Village - Malicorne

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Here's an interesting example that uses rendez-vous in more of a metaphoric sense: 

 

Le soleil est au rendez-vous pour ce nouveau numéro de la découverte de la ville de Provins.

The sun is present for this new episode of the discovery of the city of Provins.

Caption 2, Voyage en France - La ville de Provins

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The sun is "at the meeting" for this new episode—in other words, the sun is out. Être au rendez-vous means "to be present." The expression is used in the negative in Part 1 of Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai piégé mon fan to describe an actress's lack of success in recent years:

 

Sophie est une comédienne célèbre, mais depuis quelques années le succès n'est plus au rendez-vous.

Sophie is a famous actress, but success has been hard to come by for several years.

Captions 1-2, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai piégé mon fan

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Mais depuis deux ans, le succès n'est plus vraiment au rendez-vous.

But for the last two years, success has been somewhat elusive.

Caption 41, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai piégé mon fan - Part 1

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That about does it for this lesson. Nous vous donnons rendez-vous très bientôt pour une nouvelle leçon (We'll meet you very soon for a new lesson)!

Vocabulary

Chez moi, c'est chez toi!

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...

Caption 11, Alex Terrier - Le musicien et son jazz

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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.

Caption 23, Le Journal - Le baccalauréat - Part 1

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(Note that French surnames don’t take an extra s when pluralized: les Marchal.)

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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...

Caption 1, Fanny parle des saisons - La Bouffe

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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.

Caption 2, F&F Pizza - Chez F&F - Part 1

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J'ai rendez-vous chez le dentiste et je suis en retard!

I have an appointment at the dentist and I'm late!

Caption 10, Micro-Trottoirs - Art ou science?

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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.

Caption 23, Les Nubians - Le multiculturalisme

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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.

Caption 53, Alphabétisation - des filles au Sénégal

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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.

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We chez Yabla encourage you to speak French as much as you can chez vous

 

Vocabulary

Inversion: When Subjects and Verbs Switch Places

The normal word order in both French and English is "subject + verb," as in il dit (he says). But in certain situations, such as asking questions and using quotations, it is very common in French to switch the order to "verb + subject": dit-il. This is common in English as well: "They are going to the concert" versus "Are they going to the concert?" This switch from "subject + verb" to "verb + subject" is known as inversion.

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In French, most instances of inversion occur between pronouns and verbs. When a pronoun and its verb are inverted, the two must be joined with a hyphen:

 

Eh bien, mon garçon, dis-moi, que sais-tu?

Well, my boy, tell me, what do you know?

Caption 11, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès - Part 5

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"Non, je ne veux pas sortir avec toi", répond-elle.

"No, I don’t want to go out with you," she responds.

 

When inverting a third-person pronoun (il, elle, on, ils, elles) and verb, you must pronounce the two with a liaison (see our lesson on liaison here). Thus we have "dit-Til," "répond-Telle," "est-Til," and so on.

When a third-person singular verb does not end in a t or d, you must insert a -t- between the inverted pronoun and verb. This inserted -t- does not have any meaning by itself; its sole purpose is to create the liaison:

 

A-t-il peur du noir?

Is he afraid of the dark?

 

Combien d'années, combien de siècles faudra-t-il, avant que ne se retrouvent pareilles constellations?

How many years, how many centuries will be needed before such constellations can be found again?

Captions 3-4, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès - Part 6

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For third-person plural verbs, the final t (which is usually silent) is pronounced in inversion:

ils donnent ("they give," pronounced like il donne)

donnent-ils (pronounced "donne-Tils")

In other words, all inverted third-person pronouns must be preceded by a t sound.

The first-person pronoun je is rarely inverted, except in interrogative constructions such as puis-je... (may I...), dois-je... (must I...), and suis-je... (am I...).

Although not as frequently as pronouns, nouns can also be inverted with their verbs, as the above example demonstrates (se retrouvent pareilles constellations). In this case, a hyphen is not required:

 

"Non, je ne veux pas sortir avec toi", répond Christine.

"No, I don’t want to go out with you," Christine responds.

 

A common way to ask questions in French is to use a "double subject," in which a noun is followed by an inverted verb and pronoun. This can be seen in the title of the video Alsace 20: Pourquoi le bio est-il plus cher? (Why is organic more expensive?) and in this caption:

 

L'art, est-il moins nécessaire que la science?

Is art less necessary than science?

Caption 3, Micro-Trottoirs - Art ou science?

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Although the inversion method is a bit more concise, these two questions could easily be rephrased with est-ce que:

 

Pourquoi est-ce que le bio est plus cher?

Est-ce que l’art est moins nécessaire que la science?

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To learn more about asking questions in French, including some notes on inversion, see this page

Grammar

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