7 ways to use the French preposition “chez”

Chez is a French preposition that can mean “at/to ___’s house”, “to”, “among”, or “in ___’s work,” depending on the context. Overall, the word expresses a sense of “home”, whether someone’s actual dwelling, or a characteristic that’s innate to a person or group.

This may sound confusing, but its somewhat flexible meaning makes chez very useful, which is why it’s so common in French.

Let’s learn all about the meanings of chez!

What does chez mean?

A house in the French countryside or suburbs. It has large French doors on the ground floor and the facade is mostly covered in ivy. The roof is red and very sloped. Beside it is another house that looks more traditional, built of gray stone with a gray roof. It also has ivy on the facade. Both houses are seen at an angle, the photo having been taken from the green, grassy lawn in front of the first house.

Chez has several possible meanings, depending on the context. The most common one is“at/to ___’s house”.  

You may find this translation a little confusing at first, since chez precedes the person or people you’re referring to, rather than being part of a phrase:

chez moi – at my house

chez ma sœur – at my sister’s house

chez Henri – at Henri’s house

So when you’re first learning French, you could also do what would probably be a more literal translation and think “at/to the house of”. I know this idea helped me, personally, as I was getting used to using chez.

This said, chez doesn’t always refer to a house. It can refer to any place someone lives (an apartment, etc.) or even, in some cases, a place of business. So in a larger sense, you can think of chez as referring to a destination.

Sometimes, as we’ll see later on in this article, this destination can also be more abstract, referring to one’s home country or even to something within a person or their works of art.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. Chez is used so often in French that you’ll quickly pick up on it and recognizing and using will feel totally natural. Trust me.

Some rules for using chez

Before we look a little deeper into its meanings, let’s get familiar with some general rules for using chez.

Chez never changes. 

Chez never changes, no matter the gender and/or number of people referred to.

For instance:

Il reste chez lui et elle reste chez elle. (He’s staying at his house and she’s staying at her house.)

Ils vont chez Monique. (They’re going to Monique’s house.)

Tes cousins sont chez leur grand-père ce weekend.(Your cousins are at their grandfather’s house this weekend.)

When using a pronoun with chez, it must be a stress pronoun. 

As is often the case with prepositions in French, if you need to use a pronoun with chez, it must be a stress pronoun (moi, toi, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, and elles).

Like so:

Examples:

Ce soir je reste chez moi. (I’m staying at my house tonight./I’m staying home tonight.)

Elles viennent chez nous ce weekend. (They’re coming to our house this weekend.)

J’ignorais que tu avais une imprimante 3-D chez toi ! (I didn’t know you at a 3-D printer at your house!)

Chez can be used to refer to a physical place, but also to a person, group, or person’s body of work.

For instance:

Il dort chez des copains ce soir. (He’s sleeping at his friends’ house tonight.)

but also

TikTok est populaire surtout chez les adolescents.(TikTok is especially popular with teenagers.)

C’est un motif qu’on trouve souvent chez Balzac.(This is a motif we often find in Balzac’s work.)

Seven common ways to use chez

People's hands point at different locations on a 3-D model of a city that appears to be located in a museum. This model is one that is adapted for visually impaired museum goers, since the buildings, which appear old-fashioned, are all painted black without details, and brail captions can be seen along the sides of the model and on some of its streets.

Now that we know the basic rules of using chez, let’s look at its most common meanings.

Chez as “at/to ____’s house”

Chez most commonly means “at/to____’s  house” (literal translation: “at/to the house of”) or “at ___’s place”.  In informal contexts, it could also be translated as “to/at ___’s.”

It can be used this way in both formal and informal contexts.

Here are some examples:

Vendredi soir, on va chez Danielle. (Friday night, we’re going to Danielle’s house.)

Charles est chez lui? – Non, il est chez sa mère. (“Is Charles at his house?” “No, he’s at his mother’s.”)

Chez as one’s native country or region

Chez often refers to a concrete home or place, but it can also be “home” in a more abstract or larger sense. For instance, you might come across a French speaker who’ll talk about a custom in their region or country of origin with a phrase like: Chez nous, on dit…. (Back home/In my region/country, we say….).

Chez in a restaurant name

This is probably the way most non-French speakers have seen chez used. Countless fancy French restaurants in cartoons, sitcoms, and movies are called Chez someone.

But is chez actually used this way in France?

I can confirm that it is!

Although it’s not the most common name for a restaurant today, there are still lots of eateries that use this formula. For instance, one of my family’s favorite French restaurant chains is called Chez Papa.

Using chez this way roughly translates to “___’s Place”. If the restaurant is more high-end, you could translate it is simply the name with an “ ‘s”.

Chez as going to a business, shop, or professional service

In everyday spoken French, you’ll often hear something like,  Il a rendez-vous chez le médecin. (He has a doctor’s appointment.) Or Je l’ai découvert chez le nouveau fromager. (I discovered this at the new cheesemonger’s.)

This usage of chez may seem a bit strange or cluttered, but it’s very common, albeit fairly informal.

Note that you normally form this particular structure by using chez + a general title, not the name of a shop or office. For instance, you would say chez le boucher, not chez followed by the butcher’s name, unless you wanted to specify that it was that particular butcher’s place.

And remember, you never use this with a place name but rather with a profession or person’s name. To express going to a place name, you’d use the preposition à instead. For instance: chez le libraire (at the bookseller’s) versus à la librairie (at the bookshop).

Here are some more examples of using chez with a place of business:

Cet après-midi je vais chez le dentiste. (This afternoon I’m going to the dentist’s.)

Sa veste préférée s’est déchirée. Il va l’emmener chez une couturière pour voir ce qu’elle peut en faire. (His favorite jacket is torn. He’s going to bring it to a seamstress to see what she can do.)

Chez as “among”, “by”, or “for” when talking about groups of people, animals, etc.

Chez can be roughly translated to “among” or “by” when it’s used to refer to opinions, facts, and ideas about  groups of people.

For instance:

Globalement, je trouve que l’art est très apprécié chez les Français. (I find that art is generally very appreciated by French people.)

C’est un phénomène qu’on observe souvent chez les hommes et les femmes célibataires. (This is a phenomenon that we frequently find among single men and women.)

C’est une maladie assez courante chez les chats. (It’s a fairly common illness for cats.)

This use of chez is fairly common but a bit more formal than our previous examples.

Chez as “with” or “among” individuals or small groups

Similar to the previous example, chez can be roughly translated to “with” or “among” when it refers to individuals or small groups.

For example:

Le pessimisme est un problème chez Claude. (Pessimism is a problem with Claude.)

Je trouve qu’il y a beaucoup de snobisme chez elles. Je ne les aime pas trop. (I think there’s a lot of snobbishness among this group. I don’t really like them.)

Chez Tarantino, la violence est presque garantie. (With Tarantino, violence is pretty much guaranteed.)

This usage is less formal than using chez to talk about groups.

Chez when talking about someone’s body of work

The last two examples of using chez that we’ve seen show that this preposition doesn’t just refer to concrete places. It can also be used to talk about characteristics of groups and individuals. Following this line of thought, chez is also used to talk about a person’s body of work.

For example:

On trouve souvent de la magie chez Miyazaki. (We often find magic in the works of Miyazaki)

Chez Frida Kahlo, les fleurs et les couleurs vives se mélangent souvent avec la violence d’un corps blessé. (In Frida Kahlo’s work, flowers and bright colors are often mixed with the violence of a wounded body.)  

Les scènes d’essayage de vêtements sont incontournables chez la plupart des réalisateurs de comedies romantiques. (Scenes of trying on clothes are a “must” for many directors of romantic comedies.)

Son sens de la description est ce que j’apprécie le plus chez Zola. (His sense of description is what I like the most about Zola as an author.)

Some expressions with chez

View from the perspective of a man lounging in a hammock that has been hung inside a room, just in front of the window. We see the man's long green pants and gray sneakers. The posture of his legs suggest he's at ease. Beside the hammock, a brown dog, possibly a pit bull or pit bull mix, gazes calmly and lovingly at him. Behind the dog we can see the back of a somewhat worn brown leather chair.
Tu es ici chez toi.

Chez is an extremely common word in both formal and everyday French. It’s also a part of several common expressions, including welcoming ones like:

Fais comme chez toi/Faites comme chez vous.  – Make yourself at home (literally, “Do as you would at your home.”)

Tu es ici chez toi./Vous êtes ici chez vous.  – Our home is your home. (literally “Here, you’re at your house.”)

and less positive ones like:

__ de chez ___  

Although it’s not the most common usage, you may come across this structure in informal, everyday spoken French. It works by putting the same adjective in front of and after de chez. It’s used to emphasize how bad something or someone is – sort of like the structure in English “the worst of the worst”. For instance, Il est nul de chez nul (He really sucks/He’s the worst) or C’est cher de chez cher (This is really fricking expensive.)

Then again, ___ de chez ___isn’t just a negative expression. You can also use it to emphasize positive things, too. For instance: Elle est gentille de chez gentille. (She’s so nice./She’s super nice.)

You can find more expressions on the WordReference entry for chez.

How can I practice using chez?

As you can see, chez is a word that can be used in many ways. But remember that it almost always keeps a sense of a home or something that’s an innate part of someone/a group’s character.

If you don’t feel totally confident using chez yet, don’t worry; it’s such a common French word that you’ll come across it often. That’s why reading, writing, and listening to things in French will definitely be helpful.

You can also get used to using chez with the French Together app, which focuses on everyday spoken French – exactly the type of French where all forms of chez are used a lot.


I hope this article has made you feel comme chez toi when it comes to using chez!

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.