I'm having trouble with the bolded sentence.
(It came from a youtube video with non-auto-generated subtitles. The unbolded sentences are there to give context).

La menace, c'était vraiment de contracter le virus, surtout près de ma date d'accouchement. Donc j'avais peur de tester positive rendue à l'hôpital. Puis là, j'entendais des histoires d'horreur de : tu vas être séparée de ton bébé ou tu vas être séparée de ton conjoint.

DeepL translates the bolded sentence with:

So I was afraid to test positive when I went to the hospital.

Looking at this grammar webpage about the past participle, I see that the past participle can be used as an adjective. Here are two ways, shown on that webpage, that the past participle can be used as an adjective:

  • Sometimes the past participle is applied to a noun; for example: "Il y a une voiture arrêtée au carrefour.". This seems to be a straightforward use of the past partciple.
  • Sometimes the past participle is linked to a noun, through a copula verb; for example: "Les enfants sont assis dans le salon"

However, with the bolded sentence, "rendue à l'hôpital" doesn't seem to follow either pattern. I'm unsure what it is applying to (is it applying to "Je"?).

If I translate the sentence literally and directly into English, word-for-word, I observe that the translation is ungrammatical, and thus the French sentence uses a structure that clearly doesn't exist in English: "So, I was afraid to test positive went to the hospital". (I haven't seen this structure before, so I'd like to learn more about it.)


  1. My best guess is that this sentence might be an ellipses of "Donc, j'avais peur de tester positive quand je suis rendue à l'hôpital". Is this correct? (And if so, can you give other example sentences with past participles being used as adjectives, but where they don't seem straightforwardly linked to a noun, nor linked to a noun by using a copula?) If not, can you explain the structure of what "rendue" is applying to, and why it means "when I went"?
  2. Would the following sentence have the same meaning, or not? "Donc j'avais peur de tester positive, en rendant à l'hôpital". If yes, why might the original sentence have been used instead of the more "common" present participle?
  • I think at one point in your question you wrote "present participles" instead of "past participles". Not sure it was an involuntary typo or not I did not want to correct your question.
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 7:48
  • @None thanks; you caught a typo! it was a typo under "Questions 1", but intentional under "Questions 2".
    – silph
    Jul 25, 2021 at 8:46
  • And this makes me realize we haven't answered part 2, it might have seemed accessory to the rest. It should be j'avais peur de tester positive, en me rendant à l'hôpital, you can't miss out the me here (when going to the hospital, if I went to the hospital). And en me rendant à l'hopital is not interchangeable with une fois rendue à l'hopital.
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:51
  • @None I might ask a separate question asking about "en me rendant", actually. I notice that I still am not 100% sure about what tenses are required (présent? passé composé? gerund?), and the differences in meaning when using different tenses, but there is probably enough to discuss about that in a separate question. My main confusion about the use of the past participle "rendue" has been answered, so I'll mark the question as answered!
    – silph
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:54
  • I expect your tense problem is not special to se rendre it might be more general and lie in the way French and English (and maybe your mother tongue) use tenses, French has a lot more tenses than English and uses do not overlap.
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 10:04

4 Answers 4


1- In your example part of the sentence is omitted, which is quite possible and correct, you could read it this way:

Donc j'avais peur de tester positive une fois que je serais rendue à l'hôpital.

It is the same type of sentence as in the example you found:

Il y a une voiture arrêtée au carrefour.

in which the relative clause is ommitted (Il y a une voiture (qui est) arrêtée au carrefour).

Être rendu means être arrivé.

2- Se rendre vs être rendu

Se rendre est synonyme d'aller.

  • Je me rends à l'hôpital. (→ I go to the hospital).

(some people can see a difference in meaning between se rendre and aller, for more on that you can read the answer to this question: Quelle est la différence entre les verbes « aller » et « se rendre (lieu) » ?

  • Je me suis rendue à l'hôpital: (→ I went to the hospital).

So it means aller when the action expresses a movement. When we say je suis rendue (the verb is no longer pronominal) it does not express an action, but a state. Aller cannot be used in this case, être rendu is then synonym of être arrivé.

  • Je suis rendue à l'hôpital. (→ I have arrived at the hospital).

I won't say the translation from DeepL is completely wrong when using aller, but it lacks nuances.1

3- It should be j'avais peur de tester positive, en me rendant à l'hôpital, you can't miss out the me here because it means aller.
And en me rendant à l'hopital (when going to the hospital) is not interchangeable with une fois rendue à l'hopital ("once I am/I was at the hospital").

1 "When I went to hospital" vs "once I arrived at the hospital".

  • 1) It's exciting that I'm advancing in my French Learning, as a beginner, enough that I'm ready to absorb the subtle difference between se rendre and rendre in this case! (I haven't come across this in a dictionary or grammar text, yet). 2) About une fois: is there a difference between "une fois que je serai rendue" and "quand je serai rendue"? (in English, "once I arrived" and "when I arrived" seem to have the same meaning). 3) Is it gramatically correct to instead use "en rendant à l'hôpital" (or "en arrivant à l'hôpital")? If so, am I correct to guess tht the meaning wd be dffrnt?
    – silph
    Jul 25, 2021 at 8:59
  • 3 continued) And that the difference in meaning would be "I worried while I was arriving at the hospital"? 4) It was very instructive to be shown that "une voiture arrêtée" is a contraction of "une voiture qui est arêtée". It makes "une fois renduee" in jlliagre's answer make more sense to me. (i've never seen "une fois" before). thanks.
    – silph
    Jul 25, 2021 at 8:59
  • 1
    @silph There is roughly the same difference between quand and une fois que as between "when" and "once", I would not use quand in your example because I think it important to show the immediacy of the action. You might also be interested by this: Can “once” mean “when”?.
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:40
  • Ça se dit aussi chez toi, Je suis rendue à l'hôpital ?
    – jlliagre
    Jul 25, 2021 at 10:33
  • @jlliagre Ça peut se dire, moi je l'emploie peu, je l'entendais plus il y a ... disons quelques décennies en arrière, je pense que c'est en perte de vitesse, ce que confirme ce ngram - je lui ai mis un complément de lieu sinon on sait bien que les ngram ne sont pas significatifs.
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 11:00

That's indeed an ellipsis but, as far as I'm used to, not of quand je suis because the tense wouldn't work, colliding with other meanings of être rendu. An less ambiguous alternative would be une fois:

J'avais peur de tester positive une fois rendue à l'hopital. (once [arrived] in the hospital).

It's more common to drop rendue and just use une fois:

J'avais peur de tester positive une fois à l'hopital.

Note that quand je serai rendue à l'hôpital seems to become either outdated or a regionalism in France for quand je serai arrivée à l'hôpital. The verb rendre requires a reflexive form in normative French (quand je me serai rendue à l'hôpital) but the meaning is slightly different (see comments).

Tester positive is also a regionalism or an anglicism.

A more common expression in France is être testée positive.

J'avais peur d'être testée positive une fois à l'hôpital.

  • 1
    Il me semble que « quand je me serai rendu » et « quand je serai rendu » ne veulent pas dire la même chose (ce que je crois comprendre dans ton dernier §). « Quand je serai rendu » me semble couvrir un laps de temps plus grand, ça veut dire « une fois que je serai allé à/passé par l'hôpital » ( peut-être rentré chez moi, parti faire une autre course, l'action est terminée). « Quand je serai rendu » s'arrête à l'arrivée à l’hôpital, la locutrice parle vraiment de l'arrivée à l'hôpital (le test est la première chose qu'on « subit » à l'arrivée à l'hôpital!).
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 7:45
  • @None Oui, je suis tout à fait d'accord avec ça. Je propose bien être arrivée comme signification d' être rendue. La dernière phrase a bien un sens légèrement différent. Elle ne me sert qu'à montrer un usage plus courant aujourd'hui du verbe (se) rendre.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 25, 2021 at 7:52
  • 1
    Rendre has various meanings. To be honest, I never use rendu(e) that way, the reason why I wrote that I suspect a regionalism. A quick search shows a lot of occurrences a from Québec, and I remember hearing people from Eastern France saying that too. I If say je suis rendu(e), I mean "I'm being returned to", like a product returned to its owner but that doesn't make sense for an hospital. You are right that if rendue means arrivée, the sentence j'avais peur de tester positive quand je suis arrivée à l'hopital works.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:39
  • 1
    Another point: I would rather have say j'avais peur d'être testée positive instead of de tester positive, sounds like an anglicism to me. I just had a look to the video, it confirms it's French Canadian.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:40
  • 1
    @silph I did mean quand je me serai rendu (movement: once I've been to wherever...) vs quand je serai rendu (position: once I have arrived at whatever place I want to be)
    – None
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:44

The meaning of rendue is as in this entry from the TLFI:

A. Arrivé à destination. Le temps de se dire bonjour (...) et nous partons, de manière à être rendus, à 1 heure moins le quart (...) au passage Verdeau (VERLAINE, Corresp., t. 1, 1864, p. 14). Vous n'aviez qu'à prendre par la crête: vous étiez rendu en cinq minutes! (VERCEL, Cap. Conan, 1934, p. 162).

Arrivée à l'hôpital would have the same meaning: "once I got to the hospital."


I think the correct, and simplest, response to this question has been lost by assuming that rendu in this instance concerns travel to or arriving at the hospital. Rendre has several translations into English, but surely the relevant one here is give or render. The translation of Donc j'avais peur de tester positive rendue à l'hôpital is then So I was afraid of a positive test being given at the hospital.

  • 3
    This Rendue meaning would have been acceptable when, for example, used by a kidnapped girl returned to her parents ([quand j'ai été] rendue à mes parents) but it just can't work for a pregnant woman and an hospital unless that woman has been previously abducted from it, which clearly isn't the case here.
    – jlliagre
    Aug 2, 2021 at 7:40
  • @jilliagre It's not the woman who is rendered, it's the test result. Is this not possible? Aug 3, 2021 at 8:21
  • This kind of ellipsis would be awkward as the test itself isn't directly mentioned, that's the action (being tested). A way to adapt the sentence to that reasoning might be: j'avais peur que des tests positifs me soient rendus à l'hôpital.
    – jlliagre
    Aug 3, 2021 at 9:24
  • 1
    Or "... j'avais peur qu'un test positif soit rendu à l'hôpital". My apologies for my previous suggestion. I thought an infinitive ("tester") could be used as a noun in French, as it is in English. As a slight variation, surely "J'avais peur d'être testé positif rendu par l'hôpital" is correct? Aug 5, 2021 at 6:57
  • 1
    J'avais peur d'être testé positif rendu par l'hôpital doesn't work.
    – jlliagre
    Aug 5, 2021 at 7:08

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