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why do they use "en" in this sentence "Je suis en chômage"?

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The preposition "en" is often used to mean "being 'in' the position of having a particular status". For example: les familles en situation précaire, les personnes en besoin d'aide...

 

On the other hand, it's also slightly arbitrary to some extent. Why in English do people say "on" the dole, and not "at" the dole, "by" the dole...?

Could I ask you other question? when I search in Google I saw "Je suis au chômage"  is it the same or different? if different could you explain more? thank before
They're essentially alternatives. I suppose if anything, maybe "en chômage" expresses more the idea of being "in the administrative situation of being unemployed", whereas "au chômage" expresses more the idea from the person's point of view of "relying on benefits, looking for work". But I maybe going too far with this distinction-- as I say, I think to all intents and purposes you can treat them as synonyms.
Thank you, for your explain. Now i'm clear about it.
Thank you for your help, it is very useful for me.

Hello neil Coffey,

I have other question I know "I miss you" it mean "tu me manque" and how about "you miss me" it is the same "tu me manque"? thank :)

 

I've never heard the sentence "je suis en chômage". A French would say "Je suis au chômage". The exception would a situation where you still have a job but nothing do due to a lack of supply or excess of goods in your warehouses. Then we would sometime say 'Je suis en chômage technique'   though 'Je suis au chômage technique" is more frequent.

Nicolas -- have a look at some of the examples of "en chômage" on  the Internet: it is definitely used at least by some speakers/in some contexts (as I say, maybe more in the sense of indicating an "administrative status").

 

It may also depend on the country-- I see some examples from Canada and Belgium.

Neil, if you google the exact match for "au chômage", you'll have 13 260 000 hits, while "en chômage" leads to 373 000.

'en chômage' not qualified with an adjective (- partiel - temporaire - technique) seems to be, as you wrote, a regional variation more frequent in Canada and Belgium. I doubt it's related to an administrative status. It may be related to waffle.

Agreed -- but I would contend that 373,000 hits doesn't mean "never used"...!

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