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The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote on Twitter in French, German, and Dutch:

restez chez soi, bleib zuhause, blijf thuis

Is the French phrase restez chez soi grammatically correct? Here restez would be the second person plural imperative, but then shouldn't the pronoun be vous rather than soi (restez chez vous), which would appear to be the infinitive (rester chez soi)? Why is it (not) correct?

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Your analysis is fine. It is grammatically incorrect. It should be "Rester chez soi" (infinitive), or "Restez chez vous".

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    You might want to add that all other pronouns would also have been correct (but with different meanings): Restez chez moi, restez chez toi, restez chez elle, restez chez lui, restez chez nous, restez chez vous, restez chez elles, restes chez eux.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 17 '20 at 13:22
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    @jlliagre What would restez chez toi would mean? "You [formal] stay with you [informal]"? Is there a context in which this would make sense?
    – gerrit
    Dec 17 '20 at 13:54
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    @gerrit No, that would be: You (plural) stay at your (singular, informal) home. (You all, stay at thy home).
    – jlliagre
    Dec 17 '20 at 14:10
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    e.g.: Toi avec tes virus, restez chez toi !
    – jlliagre
    Dec 17 '20 at 14:23
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    An important point is that "rester chez soi" and "restez* chez soi" are pronounced the same in French, making this spelling error understandable. Dec 17 '20 at 22:39
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It's technically grammatically incorrect but I think that's failing to see the forest for the trees. This tweet is part of a cross-border campaign and, as the whole context shows, the French phrase is apparently lifted from the video and the subtitles in the Belgian prime minister's contribution rather than something the Dutch prime minister wrote out of the blue.

In this context, the most striking thing linguistically is that “rester chez soi” is not a good translation for “blijf thuis” or “bleib zuhause”. If it was, the “z” would only be a small typo or transcription error. As others have pointed out, “rester” and “restez” sound exactly the same in French so the spelling mistake doesn't make the whole sentence feel agrammatical.

In fact, the closest French translation would be “reste à la maison”. A less literal but possibly more idiomatic translation would be “ne sortez pas”. Incidentally, both of these refer to one's home (as opposed to the whole/country region as “thuis” or “zuhause” might in Dutch or German).

If you consider that officials typically use a more formal register in France than in the Netherlands (not necessarily true when comparing Belgium and Germany), it could be “restez chez vous” (German: “bleiben Sie zuhause”, which is what Laschet — but not De Croo or Rutte — says in the video). That's also the plural form in French (German: “bleibt zuhause”). This discrepancy in tone and meaning is the main reason why that phrase feels improper and presumably hasn't been produced by a native French speaker.

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    I did notice the German form was inappropriate as well (it's not grammatically wrong, but it addresses a single person informally).
    – gerrit
    Dec 18 '20 at 14:17
  • @gerrit why shouldn't a Prime Minister address people informally?
    – user253751
    Dec 18 '20 at 20:32
  • @user253751 One can discuss formal or informal (in Germany and I believe France too politicians would always address voters with the formal form), but in this context using the singular form is simply not right.
    – gerrit
    Dec 18 '20 at 22:01
  • Re: "‘rester chez soi’ is not a good translation for ‘blijf thuis’ or ‘bleib zuhause’": Could you explain why this is? Is rester chez soi inherently awkward in some way, or is it just that the German and Dutch differ from it in some way, or something else? (Sorry if this is a stupid question -- I don't know German or Dutch, so I may be missing something obvious.)
    – ruakh
    Dec 19 '20 at 21:27
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    @Relaxed Dans une liste de choses à faire/ne pas faire ce serait possible d'avoir l'infinitif; ça reviendrait à la même chose que ton « ...est recommandé ». Dec 20 '20 at 22:55
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rester chez soi is grammatically correct in my opinion. As an example you would say « stay at your own place is better than staying at your mother’s place ». Rester chez soi est mieux que chez sa mère But hey, this is one man opinion

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    You missed the Z...
    – jlliagre
    Dec 17 '20 at 23:01
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    Yes, "rester chez soi" is grammatically correct. No one said it wasn't here. Or did we?
    – Ouch42
    Dec 18 '20 at 7:27
  • No. I view the video and in my opinion the prime minister used it properly
    – lucTiber
    Dec 18 '20 at 7:33
  • What video? The question is about a twitter post. Dec 18 '20 at 9:22
  • The question is about a twitter post, yes, and on a video, how could you possibly know if the PM said "restez chez soi" or "rester chez soi"? It sounds exactly the same, at least where I am from.
    – Ouch42
    Dec 18 '20 at 9:43

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